Thursday, June 26, 2014

Missouri lawmakers ask department to restrict use of state-owned airplanes

JEFFERSON CITY • After Gov. Jay Nixon announced that doling out education funding hinged on the Legislature sustaining his vetoes of 10 bills, some lawmakers shot back, pointing to other areas of government that could be cut.

Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, and Rep. Rick Stream, R-Kirkwood, sent a letter to the State Highway Patrol requesting it restrict the use of state-owned airplanes.

"Limiting the use of state-owned aircraft will help ensure that the resources it takes to maintain and operate such aircraft remain available for when they are most needed by Missouri citizens,” Schaefer and Stream state in the letter.

The request follows Nixon's Tuesday announcement that he would withhold a $100 million general revenue increase for the Foundation Formula, which funds K-12 public schools, and a $43 million general revenue increase for public higher education institutions based on performance unless the Legislature sustains his vetoes of the 10 tax break bills. These withholds were part of $1.1 billion of budget cuts made by Nixon for the $26.4 billion fiscal year 2015 budget. The fiscal year begins July 1.

The tax break bills, many passed on the last day of the session, provide breaks to restaurants, dry cleaners and power companies, to name a few. Nixon estimated the bills would drop state revenue $425 million per year.

Schaefer noted that restricting the use of these airplanes would be another way to cut government waste without holding children "hostage" and cutting important services.

“The governor continues to blame the Legislature for our economic failures, yet he shares no economic development plans except expanding welfare by taking federal dollars which is no plan at all,” Schaefer in a statement. “While he continues to cut services for some of our most needy and education, he flies around in his state-of-art $6 million plane using state money to pay for the expense of pilots, maintenance, fuel, and other associated travel costs.” 

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