Lawmakers try to stop the governor's free flights
Tue, 18 Jan 2011 01:28:09 GMT —
House Speaker Steven Tilley and Minority Leader Mike Talboy told the Associated Press they plan to stop allowing Governor Jay Nixon to bill state departments for his air travels. They plan to do this by inserting provisions into the budget bills for state departments.
Gov. Nixon said Monday he feels if people from different state departments are traveling with him, then they should have to pay part of the bill.
If we have cabinet officials or employees from those departments with me to get to a community, because it's more time efficient, than we're going to continue to bill them for the time, Gov. Nixon said.
Missouri State Representative Jay Barnes told KRCG Missouri is $500 million to $700 million in the hole. He said they need to look at every budget including the governor's travel budget to figure out what can be done to fix the problem.
With the budget climate we're facing, we got to look anywhere and everywhere to find cuts. I don't believe the governor's flights around the state are a vital state service, MO State Rep. Jay Barnes said. So of course we need to look at those and perhaps cut them and eliminate that from those departments' budgets."
The AP first reported in 2009 that Nixon was charging agencies for his flights instead of paying for them out of his office budget.
In May of 2009 Nixon flew even more frequently " averaging a flight every other day and billing agencies nearly $25,000.
Then in 2010, critics cried hypocrisy because Nixon continued to bill flights to state agencies even while instructing them to cut back on their own travel expenses.
Assistant House Minority Leader Tishaura Jones, a St. Louis Democrat, said Monday that if lawmakers were to follow Nixon TMs logic, they could bill the governor TMs office each time they traveled to appear at one of his news conferences. Instead, each lawmaker has his or her own expense account.
We can TMt turn a blind eye when something like this " as glaring as charging departments for travel " comes out in the press numerous times, Jones said.
The legislative denouncement marks the second time in recent days that some of Nixon TMs fellow Democrats have taken issue with his financial decisions.
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(The Associated Press contributed to this article)