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Governor Jay Nixon Announces Proposal to Reduce Costs for the Next Fiscal Year

During a stop today in Springfield, Missouri’s Governor Jay Nixon rolled out a plan that he says will cut $500 million from the budget for Fiscal Year 2011, which begins this July. KSMU’s Missy Shelton reports.

The governor is calling his plan a “blueprint for right-sizing government.” He’s proposing consolidating the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and the Higher Education Department and he’s looking at merging the state Highway Patrol and Water Patrol. He’s also calling for caps on some tax credit programs. And the governor’s plan includes eliminating three state holidays, reducing the state’s vehicle fleet, and reducing state-funded scholarships for students attending private colleges. The governor did not offer a line by line explanation of how his plan saves half a billion dollars but says he’ll work out the details with lawmakers.

Nixon says, “We’re working to see what kind of savings those are. We’re going to work with the legislature to take these and make sure we’ve got the right amounts to get a budget passed that’s balanced.”

Nixon discussed his plan in a speech during the annual meeting of the Springfield Business Development Corporation.Republican Senator Gary Nodler of Joplin was at the meeting. Until this year, he chaired the Senate Appropriations Committee. Nodler says he can along with some parts of the governor’s plan.

Nodler says, “There’s much in there we can agree with. It doesn’t get you to $500 million and that’s the rub. As far as it goes, it’s fine but it doesn’t get you to the number you need to bring the budget into balance.”

Lawmakers are on spring break this week. Nixon says he’ll be working with legislators when they return to Jefferson City next week to iron out the details of his plan.