Governor releases vetoed budget money

Funds to be used to rebuild tech school destroyed in fire

Gov. Jay Nixon last week released $1 million in state funding to rebuild a destroyed vocational school — a month after the Legislature overrode his veto of the spending.

And House Speaker Tim Jones used the occasion to complain about Nixon’s handling of the money.

“We were assessing the amount of revenue that will be available in the fair share fund to make this payment and the other payments from the fund,” State Budget Director Linda Luebbering said in an email Monday.

“The spending was released by the Governor last week after completion of that assessment.”

A fire destroyed the Pike-Lincoln Technical Center, between Eolia and Clarksville in northeast Missouri, on Dec. 3, 2011.

Lawmakers last spring appropriated $1 million from the 2013-14 state budget to help replace the demolished building, taking the money from the state’s “Fair Share Fund.”

But Nixon vetoed the line-item, explaining in a June 28 veto letter that money from the fund “shall be transferred monthly to the state school moneys fund and distributed to school districts in this state as provided” in the formula for distributing state aid to all public school districts.

In the Sept. 11 veto session, the House overrode Nixon’s line-item veto 112-47, and the Senate agreed on a 28-5 vote.

In his news release, Jones, R-Eureka, said: “Legislators were frustrated with the governor after he first used a line-item veto to strike the $1 million in funding from the budget and then decided to withhold the money after legislators overrode his veto in bipartisan fashion. ...

“The governor made education funding a focal point leading up to the veto session, but then vetoed funding to a vocational center that provides high quality technical education to hundreds of individuals in Northeast Missouri.”

Jones must leave the House after next year because of term limits and has said he’s interested in running for attorney general in 2016.

He called the veto and the delay after the veto override “yet another example of the governor saying one thing and doing another when it comes to his support for our system of education.”

Nixon’s office didn’t respond to Jones’ comments.

But Luebbering told The Associated Press that, in addition to making sure the Fair Share Fund had enough money to pay the appropriation, Nixon, a Democrat, and his staff also were determining whether the fund legally could be used for the project, before releasing the money.

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