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Schweich halts fiscal estimates for initiatives

Schweich halts fiscal estimates for initiatives

April 21st, 2012 by David A. Lieb, Associated Press in News

State Auditor Tom Schweich has instructed his staff to stop preparing estimates about the financial effect of proposed ballot initiatives, citing recent court rulings that have clouded the authority of his office to carry out the task.

In an internal memo obtained by The Associated Press under an open-records request, Schweich states his moratorium on preparing fiscal analyses for ballot initiatives is to remain in effect until a state appeals court or the Legislature provides specific guidance for his office. He declined to comment Friday beyond what was written in the memo.

The immediate effect of Schweich's new policy is that his office will wait on appeals before writing new financial summaries - as ordered to do by trial judges - for a ballot initiative limiting payday loans and another initiative that would repeal the state income tax in favor of an expanded sales tax. Supporters of initiatives have until May 6 to turn in petition signatures, which must have the official financial summary affixed to them. It's unlikely the appeals will be resolved by then.

Schweich's frustration stems from three recent rulings in Cole County Circuit Court, which hear legal challenges to ballot initiatives because it is the home county of the state capital.