Nixon planning to go ahead with Revenue layoffs

File photograph of Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon

File photograph of Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon

Unless something changes in the next few weeks, some Revenue Department Motor Vehicle Division employees will be laid off as of July 1.

Gov. Jay Nixon told reporters Friday he plans to follow through with Wednesday’s promise to “reduce staff and services accordingly,” after lawmakers passed a budget providing only two-thirds of the money needed to run the division for a full year.

“This budget deviates from our time-tested budget management practices, by attempting to fund only part of the fiscal year, for one part of one department,” the governor explained Friday morning, noting that lawmakers also cut one-third of the amount needed to pay the out-of-state contractor hired last year to provide Missouri driver’s and non-driver’s licenses.

Nixon, a Democrat, and the Republican-led House and Senate are battling over the process the Revenue Department began last December, requiring Missourians to present documentation such as a birth certificate or passport to prove their identity in order to get that license — then scanning those documents and forwarding the scanned information to a vendor based near Atlanta, who uses the information to produce the actual licenses and mail them back to Missouri.

“The changes enhance security and help reduce the risk of identity theft and other kinds of fraud,” the department explains, in a “frequently asked questions” section of their website, at http://dor.mo.gov/faq/drivers/newlook.php.

“Driver licenses and nondriver identification cards will have new security features, and will be printed in one, secure facility.”

But lawmakers contend the process — especially the copying and saving of the personal information — violates existing state laws.

They also argue the department should have waited to implement the new process until it had changed its procedures through the state’s rule-making process — which requires publication of a notice about the pending rules change, and a period where residents can comment on, and raise questions about, the proposed change.

Not following the rule-making process also is a law violation, the lawmakers have said.

Senate Appropriations Chairman Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, told reporters Wednesday, after Nixon first promised the employee layoffs: “There is absolutely no reason for the governor to lay off (employees).”

And, Schaefer noted he, and other GOP leaders, have said repeatedly that they have promised Nixon and his administration: “Provided that they are on the right track and the governor is no longer doing the illegal things in the Department of Revenue — we made it very clear we would fund the rest of their budget for the rest of the year.”

The governor said again Friday the lawmakers’ plan isn’t acceptable because — among other reasons — it could damage the AAA bond rating Missouri government has received for a number of years, from the nation’s three separate bond-rating agencies.

While Schaefer on Wednesday called that idea “absurd,” Nixon explained Friday: “We don’t run a AAA state, and our budget, based on the statements of any particular senator — we base it on the documents that come out of that (budget process). ...

“Make no mistake — I’m not going to operate this government on two-thirds of a budget — whether it’s this part of it, or any part. I’m just not going to do it.

“No governor would do that. It’s not the way to operate your budget.”

Nixon called the lawmakers’ plan “fiscally irresponsible.”

Without offering specifics, the governor said Friday: “We will work to minimize the impacts on individuals. ...

“We’ll work with the individuals, but I want everybody to know — there will be impacts.”

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