Update: Budget cuts include scholarships

Update: Thursday, June 17 at 6:35 p.m.

Education and mental health take the big hits in the latest round of state budget cuts.

Gov. Jay Nixon signed the budget for the fiscal year that begins in two weeks Thursday.

To balance the books, he must cut more than $300 million on top of the trimming already done by state lawmakers.

Nixon said a continuing slide in sales tax revenues and the failure of lawmakers to approve mitigating legislation have prompted the additional cuts.

"Some might say we've been belt tightening, Nixon said. We might have to punch another hole in the belt this time.

The largest single cut is $70 million taken from the budget for school buses. That's on top of transportation cuts made in May by the legislature.

"Restricting these funds was not an easy call, Nixon said. But it will allow us to preserve full funding for K thru 12 classrooms.

The next biggest chunk is more than $50 million taken from the Access Missouri College Scholarship program. That would cut the annual award by more than half for most students who get help through the needs-based program. However, the Missouri Higher Education Loan Authority, MOHELA, plans to give $30 million in grants to the program. Nixon's budget director could not say exactly how that will work.

"They're gonna be making those decisions very quickly, State Budget Director Linda Luebbering said. They just haven't been made yet."

Luebbering also said the students will be notified of their scholarship changes.

Nixon will cut state contracts and toughen the return on investment standards for tax credits. He will trim dozens of programs and will eliminate another 250 state employee positions, including 92 in mental health. That's on top of the nearly 1,000 jobs eliminated in the budget passed by lawmakers.

Nixon had already eliminated most state-funded travel, but not his own. When asked about that by an associated press reporter, Nixon defended his travel to ceremonies around the state, particularly those connected to military service.

"I need to show the respect of the state in many of those ceremonial things, whether it's a graduation, or a welcome-home ceremony, or the honoring of someone who has passed, Nixon said. Those are obligations.

Based on another conference call Thursday morning, lawmakers said Nixon is planning to announce Friday that he will call a special legislative session on business re-investment incentives.

Sources tell the Associated Press, the legislation will tie tax incentives for manufacturers such as Ford Motor Company to changes in Missouri TMs state employee retirement system. Savings from the pension changes are intended to offset the tax breaks.

Update: Thursday, June 17 at 11:45 a.m.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon is cutting state spending for college scholarships and school busing and eliminating some state jobs.

Nixon said Thursday he is trimming $301 million from the state budget that takes effect next month. The cuts include $70 million in state aid for school busing and more than $50 million from college scholarship programs. The governor also plans to cut 250 state government jobs.

Legislators passed a $23.3 billion operating budget in late April. Their plan would hold basic school aid flat and made deep cuts to some services.

Nixon's administration has said that more cuts were needed because of falling state revenues and the failure of several bills that lawmakers had assumed would save money in the budget.

Orginal Story:

Gov. Jay Nixon will unveil millions of dollars in budget cuts today. Nixon says more cuts are needed to a $23.3 billion budget that takes effect July 1.

Possible targets of budget cuts are students and mental health patients.

KRCG's Kermit Miller will have the complete story today on KRCG News.