Gov. Jay Nixon signed a bill last week and immediately declared part of it unconstitutional and said he wouldn’t follow it.
The legislation signed by Nixon would direct the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to modify the state’s school funding formula to spare one-quarter of school districts from cuts instead of dividing the $43 million shortfall among all the districts.
Nixon’s office told The Associated Press that precedent was set in 1926 and 1999 when the Missouri Supreme Court and a state appeals court respectively said it would be unconstitutional for lawmakers to use an appropriations bill to change a state law.
While “signing statements” are a tactic that U.S. presidents have used, most recently Barack Obama, it is unprecedented among recent Missouri governors.
State lawmakers are vocal about their disagreement with Nixon’s actions. Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, called the decision an “unprecedented power grab” and Sen. Jim Lembke, R-St. Louis, called it “tyranny.”
Sen. Jason Crowell, R-Cape Girardeau, has met with an attorney to figure out the best way to challenge Nixon’s actions.
Did Nixon overstep by declaring a portion of legislation unconstitutional?