Missouri lawmakers review budgets for elected officials

Missouri lawmakers examining the state budget turned their attention Monday to spending by elected officials, focusing on issues such as travel by the governor that is billed to other departments and the amount of paper used by the House.

Rep. Tom Flanigan, R-Carthage, questioned why costs for the business travel of the governor would not be covered by the governor’s office

Nixon Budget Director Linda Luebbering said individual agencies may be billed for cost when Nixon travels for business involving them directly. Luebbering said the governor’s office most frequently charges the Department of Economic Development but also has billed the Department of Public Safety.

“When he has to do other special travel, we do need to allocate that,” she said.

The Associated Press reported earlier this year that Nixon has flown tens of thousands of miles on state airplanes while charging state agencies for nearly all those costs. Through the end of May, the governor’s flights cost more than $260,000 — of that more than $80,000 was covered by the Department of Economic Development. Nixon was a passenger on more than 70 percent of all non-law enforcement flights from June 2009 through May 31 on the twin-engine, turbo-prop planes maintained by the Missouri State Highway Patrol and the Department of Conservation.

Lawmakers also focused questions Monday about the chef and housekeeper who work at the Governor’s Mansion and the possibility of consolidating the three governor’s office staff positions that are responsible for communications and dealing with the media.

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