JEFFERSON CITY - The most recent ruling on the Hancock Amendment will not get in the way of his campaign promises, Gov.-elect Bob Holden said Thursday
Holden held his first news conference since returning Wednesday night from a new-governor's conference in the resort town of Park City, Utah.
Holden addressed Wednesday's ruling by Cole County Circuit Judge Thomas J. Brown that ordered the state to refund more than $244 million under the Hancock Amendment.
"You lose $200 million out of your budget, it has an impact," Holden said. "We'll be designing strategies for whatever the courts decide."
"But this will in no way deter my commitment to finding the funds I think we need for education," he added.
Meanwhile, Attorney General Jay Nixon will appeal the trial court's ruling, said spokesman Scott Holste.
"We don't believe the trial court made the correct decision," Holste said. "Some of those calculations were incorrect and we'll be seeking to convince the higher court of that."
Holden said he was in the process of reaching out to leaders in the state House and Senate and was ready to get to work.
Democrats hold a slight edge in the House, while Republicans enjoy a 16-15 advantage until the Jan. 24 special election to fill three vacant seats. [Note to desk: We got a release today saying the special election date was changing to Jan. 24, not Jan. 23 as Gov. Wilson said yesterday] Sens. Joe Maxwell, D-Mexico, Lacy Clay, D-St. Louis, and Sam Graves, R-Tarkio, all resigned this week to assume higher offices.
"It makes government more difficult just because of the numbers," Holden said. "But my job is to work with the leaders that are put in place."
Despite having almost 25 years experience in state government, Holden said he learned a few things at the governor's conference.
"State government is becoming a more active player in what's going on in Washington, D.C.," Holden said. "In terms of welfare reform, taxation and health care, we have to have much more active involvement with our Congressional delegation."
Earlier Thursday, the governor's Budget and Planning Director Mark Ward said that if the court's Hancock ruling stands, it would affect the state budget significantly.
"There would be a dramatic reduction in services and programs that are provided to Missourians," Ward said.
Ward said much of the cuts would come in capital improvements for education, putting on hold any building plans at colleges and universities across the state. Half of the state's general revenue fund goes to education.
In discussing the transition to his swearing in Jan. 8, Holden announced plans to reaching out to all Missourians through the Internet for input on his administration.
"Anyone interested in a position can apply online," Holden said. "We'll take a look at it and start a more formal process of interviewing from there."
He said he would rule out no one because he wanted to find the best and brightest people in the state to serve with him.
Also, Holden said former KMIZ-TV reporter Dan Barber would serve as communications director for the transition period. Barber currently is an executive with Kansas City public relations firm Fleishmann-Hillard. Tom Vansaghi, who coordinated both inaugurals for former Gov. Mel Carnahan, was picked as Holden's inaugural coordinator.