Missouri Gubernatorial Budgetary Recommendations, Amendment 10 (2014)

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Amendment 10
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Type:Constitutional amendment
Constitution:Missouri Constitution
Referred by:Missouri Legislature
Topic:State and local government budgets, spending and finance on the ballot
Status:On the ballot
2014 measures
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August 5
Amendment 1 Approveda
Amendment 5 Approveda
Amendment 7 Defeatedd
Amendment 8 Defeatedd
Amendment 9 Approveda
November 4
Amendment 2
Amendment 3
Amendment 6
Amendment 10
EndorsementsFull text
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Local measures

The Missouri Gubernatorial Budgetary Recommendations, Amendment 10 is on the November 4, 2014 ballot in Missouri as a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment. The measure, upon voter approval, would prohibit the governor from estimating available state revenues when making budget recommendations to the legislature in situations where estimated available state revenues are determined from proposed, but not yet approved, legislation. The measure would allow the governor to estimate unspent revenues that will constitute a surplus from the immediately preceding fiscal year or years in his or her budget recommendation. Also, the amendment would prohibit the governor from reducing appropriations for the payment of public debt.[1]

The measure was sponsored in the Missouri Legislature by Rep. Todd Richardson (R-152) as House Joint Resolution 72.[2]

Text of the measure

The official ballot text reads as follows:[3]

Official Ballot Title:
Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to require the governor to pay the public debt, to prohibit the governor from relying on revenue from legislation not yet passed when proposing a budget, and to provide a legislative check on the governor’s decisions to restrict funding for education and other state services?
State governmental entities expect no direct costs or savings. Local governmental entities expect an unknown fiscal impact.

Fair Ballot Language:

A “yes” vote will amend the Missouri Constitution regarding the requirements placed on the governor for proposing a state budget and for withholding money appropriated in the budget passed by the legislature. This amendment prohibits the governor from reducing funding passed by the general assembly without receiving legislative consent, and provides certain other restrictions on the governor’s ability to increase or decrease line items in the budget. This amendment further prohibits the governor from proposing a budget that relies on revenue from legislation that has not yet passed in the general assembly.
A “no” vote will not amend the Missouri Constitution regarding the requirements placed on the governor for proposing a state budget and for withholding money appropriated in the budget passed by the legislature.
If passed, this measure will have no impact on taxes.[4]

Constitutional changes

See also: Missouri Gubernatorial Budgetary Recommendations Amendment, HJR 72 (2014), constitutional text changes

If approved, HJR 72 would amend Section 24 and Section 27 of Article IV of the Missouri Constitution.

Background

HJR 72 was born out of an ongoing tension between the executive and legislative branches regarding the state budget. Gov. Jay Nixon (D) has relied on his constitutional powers to reduce funding for budgeted programs. Occasionally, this has been done even when "revenues are meeting projections," according to the Associated Press.[5] Gov. Nixon and his office have defended such moves as being necessary to maintain a balanced budget and within his constitutional purview.[6] However, members of the legislature have argued such moves are an infringement on the separation of powers and system of checks and balances.[7] Prior to Gov. Nixon's election, Missouri had been a Republican Party state government trifecta. Since his election, the government has remained divided due to the continuing Republican majority in both the House and the Senate.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, all governors except the Governor of Maryland have the power to veto an entire appropriations bill. Missouri's governor can veto funding for a particular line item, funding for an entire program or agency and language accompanying appropriation itself. However, "[words] that set out the purpose of an appropriation may be stricken only when the appropriation is vetoed." The governor can also reduce amounts in a budget.[8]

Support

Supporters

Rep. Todd Richardson was the primary sponsor of HJR 72.

Officials

Arguments

Rep. Richardson claims that there is no definition for what is being referred to by the word "estimates" in Section 27 of Article IV of the Missouri Constitution. He said, "Unfortunately there’s been no real interpretation of that provision because despite efforts to do so, it’s been very difficult to get the merits of those cases heard before Missouri courts." He has provided the following arguments in favor of the amendment:

Do Missourians feel like the governor should have unchecked power to decide how the taxpayers’ money gets spent, or do they believe that as with all areas of government there ought to be checks and balances?[4]

Rep. Todd Richardson, [7]

We have never seen a governor withhold funding at the level Gov. Nixon has year after year. It is a clear abuse of his constitutional authority that is meant to be limited to times when our state is in a funding crisis. As our governor continues to propose more and more spending while withholding funds already appropriated by the legislature it is clear that we have to restore the balance that is meant to exist between the branches of government.[4]

Rep. Todd Richardson, [9]

This would put a very simple yet effective process in place that protects the interests of Missouri taxpayers by requiring the governor to pay the public debt and by providing legislative oversight of the governor’s decisions to restrict funding. In effect, it would allow us to consider his withholding while we are in session and override it with a two-thirds vote.[4]

Rep. Todd Richardson, [9]

Opposition

Rep. Mike Colona (D-80) expressed concerns about unintended consequences the measure might have during a House General Laws Committee meeting. He questioned the matter saying,

We’ve had a budgetary process that has worked for decades. If we throw a monkey wrench in there, who knows about the unintended consequences? I’m not about to take that risk.[4]

Rep. Mike Colona, [10]

Path to the ballot

Missouri Constitution
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Preamble
Articles
IIIIIIIVVVIVIIVIIIIXXXIXIIXIII
See also Amending the Missouri Constitution

Proposed constitutional amendments must be agreed to by a majority of the members of each chamber of the Missouri General Assembly. HJR 72 was passed by the Missouri House on February 20, 2014. The amendment was passed by the Missouri Senate on May 16, 2014.[11]

House vote

February 20, 2014 House vote

Missouri HJR 72 House Vote
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 109 72.19%
No4227.81%

Senate vote

May 16, 2014 Senate vote

Missouri HJR 72 Senate Vote
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 25 86.21%
No413.79%

See also

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