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Oct 17

Election Preview: Missouri’s Amendment 10

Note: as we get closer to the November 4th General Election, we will be addressing some of the proposals voters will decide at the polls over the next few weeks. this week’s show is the first in a series of three programs focused on election issues.

by Mike Ferguson

(St. Charles, MO) – Election Day is just weeks away, are you ready?

This year, there is no major contest on the ballot for a statewide office. State Auditor Tom Schweich (R) faces no Democratic opposition but there are some important state constitutional amendment proposals voters will decide.

Among them: Amendment 10. If approved, it would make a big change to the rules when it comes to state government spending.

In recent years, Republicans in the State Legislature have accused Governor Jay Nixon of using his ability to withhold spending that has already been budgeted and approved in order to gain leverage on other political issues. Spending withholds are legal and have been used by governors from both parties for many years in Missouri.

As things stand now, when the Governor (regardless of party affiliation) withholds state funds already approved to be spent, he has the final say on the matter and may choose to release the funds at a later date – or not at all. If passed by voters, Amendment 10 would grant the State Legislature (regardless of which party has a majority in one or both chambers) the ability to vote on the withhold and force the release of the funds in question.MWSnap016

The proposal calls for a two-thirds majority vote to force the release of the spending, which would make the process basically the same as an override of a line item veto.

In this week’s program, Missouri Budget Project Director of Policy Jay Hardenbrook argues against the proposal while State Representative Todd Richardson (R) argues in favor of it.MWSnap015

Hardenbrook says, among other reasons, the Governor needs the ability to withhold funds because economic conditions can quickly change after the budget process is complete and sometimes revenues simply don’t meet expectations, creating a shortfall.

Richardson says those concerns are addressed in the proposal because it would also require budgeting based on current revenue streams, not based on projected revenue.

On the web:

Missouri Budget Project: www.MOBudget.org

Rep. Todd Richardson: www.RichardsonForMissouri.com

2014 Missouri Ballot Measures: http://www.sos.mo.gov/elections/2014ballot/

Permanent link to this article: http://missouriviewpoints.com/election-preview-missouris-amendment-10/