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Nixon Threatens Layoffs Over DMV Budget Squabble

Courtesy of governor.mo.gov

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon is threatening to lay off state workers unless Republican lawmakers fully fund the Missouri Department of Revenue's Motor Vehicles Division for a full fiscal year.

The warning comes one day after House and Senate budget negotiators agreed to only fund the state division for eight months, as a means of pressuring state Revenue officials to stop scanning and storing source documents of driver's license applicants.  Nixon, a Democrat,  says he'll treat the 8-month appropriation as a full year's funding if GOP leaders don’t reverse themselves.

"They leave me no choice," Nixon told reporters Wednesday.  "I will reduce staff and services accordingly, including making the necessary layoffs, effective July one."

Kurt Schaefer is a Republican from Columbia and chairs the Missouri Senate's Appropriations Committee.  He calls the Governor's decision irresponsible, and says the practice of scanning personal documents of driver's license applicants is illegal.

"There's absolutely no reason for him to lay off anyone, in that they have a full budget for eight months, until we come back (next year), and provided they comply with the law, which they're currently violating still today, we'll give them the rest of the year’s budget," Schaefer said.  "But if the Governor wants to use it as an opportunity to cut state employees, he's the Governor and he can do that."

It’s too late to amend any of the budget bills.  However, if the Nixon administration agrees to stop scanning applicants' personal documents before the budget is voted out, lawmakers could choose to allow the DMV's budget bills to return to conference where they could be fully funded.  So far there are no indications that either side will budge.

Follow Marshall Griffin on Twitter:  @MarshallGReport

Marshall Griffin is the Statehouse reporter for St. Louis Public Radio.
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