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Missouri judge considers whether Governor Nixon exceeded his constitutional powers

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November 4, 2011

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon

By Kevin Kelly

JEFFERSON CITY, Missouri: Last Monday, Cole County Judge Jon Beetem listened to arguments from attorneys representing the Democratic Governor Jay Nixon and Republican Auditor Tom Schweich.[1]

On Friday August 26, 2011, Governor Nixon was sued by Missouri's state auditor, who alleges that the governor violated the Missouri Constitution by cutting spending on education and other services to help cover the costs of the Joplin tornado and spring flooding. The Governor has reportedly announced $170 million in budget cuts for the fiscal year that began July 1, 2011.[2]

Auditor Schweich and his attorneys argue that the cuts are intended to be permanent and that the governor can reduce expenditures only when revenues fall below projections. The Governor's attorneys, however, claim that the cuts are temporary and authorized under a constitutional section that gives the governor the power to control the rate of expenditures.[1]

The section of the Missouri Constitution under question states, "The governor may control the rate at which any appropriation is expended during the period of the appropriation by allotment or other means, and may reduce the expenditures of the state or any of its agencies below their appropriations whenever the actual revenues are less than the revenue estimates upon which the appropriations were based."[3]

Judge Beetem has not yet made a ruling over the case.

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