Gov. Jay Nixon on Tuesday released $40.1 million that he previously had frozen for projects at the Capitol and state parks and for several state government programs.
The largest share goes to repairs at the Capitol, where years of water infiltration has taken a toll on the roughly century-old building. Stalactites hang from the ceiling in part of the basement, concrete on the wall is flaking and some rebar is exposed. Nixon released $18 million for sealing and waterproofing the exterior of the building's south side that faces away from the Missouri River and toward the Supreme Court. Officials said it will improve the building's appearance, structural stability and water-shedding capacity.
Nixon is keeping a hold in place for $28.5 million of the $50 million that was approved by lawmakers for the Capitol complex. Legislators this year also considered a state bonding package that would have included money specifically for the Capitol. It did not pass.
Besides the state Capitol, Nixon released $7 million for state facilities maintenance and repair and $5 million for projects at state parks. For the operating budget, the governor made available $10.1 million to several programs, including dental programs at rural health clinics, a mobile dental program to provide services to children and disabled adults, small-business programs and an early grade literacy program.
"Sound fiscal management allows me to release these funds that can be put to use in several state programs and make long-term capital improvements," Nixon said.
The governor initially restricted $400 million from the current year's state budget taking effect July 1 while campaigning to sustain his veto of an income tax cut that he argued would have punched a hole in the state budget. The governor released $215 million in September for education and other state services one day after the Legislature failed to get the two-thirds majority needed to override his veto. He also released $2 million in September to design a new state mental health facility and $11 million for the Fulton State Hospital earlier this month.
Republican lawmakers had criticized Nixon's original spending restrictions as unjustified.
The most recent spending thaws mean Nixon now has released all his restrictions for this year's state operating budget. He is maintaining a hold on $134 million for capital improvements, including facilities maintenance and repair, a new state office building in Jefferson City, state parks and a Sullivan County lake.