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Cutting "1,000 jobs' not a sure thing

Cutting "1,000 jobs' not a sure thing

June 30th, 2013 in News

State Budget Director Linda Luebbering answers question during a press conference Friday, June 28, 2013, in her Missouri Capitol office in Jefferson City. Luebbering offered details about the $400 million Gov. Nixon announced he was withholding from the fiscal year 2014 budget.

Photo by Julie Smith

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon said Friday his announcement that a possible budget shortfall could lead to cutting another 1,000 state employee positions doesn't mean those jobs automatically are gone.

In announcing his decision to withhold $400.7 million in spending that lawmakers authorized in the 2013-14 state budget, Nixon said that withheld money was only a "down payment" on budget cuts needed if lawmakers override his veto of a bill cutting income taxes over the next 5-10 years.

"With a price tag of at least $800 million annually, House Bill 253 (the tax-cuts bill) would undermine our fiscal foundation now - and for years to come," the governor told reporters in his Capitol office Friday morning.

So, he said, he's told Budget Director Linda Luebbering "to develop a plan to eliminate another 1,000 full-time employees from the state workforce, if necessary. That's not an immediate action."

Luebbering later told reporters: "The 1,000-job-reduction would not go into effect if House Bill 253 does not become law."

Instead, she said, her assignment from Nixon is to start "working with the departments to develop a plan to cut another 1,000 positions out of state government."

Nixon has noted several times that his administration has cut, permanently, the equivalent of more than 4,500 state jobs since he took office in January 2009.

Luebbering said no decisions have been made about where in government any new cuts might be - and those salaries were not part of the money Nixon ordered to be withheld when he signed the state's new budget on Friday.

"We did not specifically restrict funding around that, because we do not want to act to give layoff notices to people, and then ask them to come back in October," she said. "That would not be the right thing to do."

If the job cuts become necessary, she said, the state will look to see how many people can be moved into existing, vacant jobs before an actual employee is cut from the payroll.

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Lawmakers, lobby groups question budget withholds