Gov. Nixon's budget director disputes effectiveness of Missouri Senate cuts

Tuesday, April 23, 2013 | 9:05 p.m. CDT

JEFFERSON CITY — Missouri senators trying to target budget cuts at the agency that issues driver's licenses may have instead blocked funding for the registration of boats and mobile homes. And other Senate cuts could cancel funding for police training and the collection of child support, the state budget director said Tuesday.

A day after the Senate passed a budget plan packed with attention-grabbing cuts, an analysis of those cuts conducted by the state budget chief at the request of The Associated Press indicates that some reductions may have missed their intended mark while others could have unintended consequences.

The most prominent among the Senate's cuts is the elimination of the entire $3.5 million allotment and 37 full-time employee positions for the Motor Vehicle and Driver Licensing Division. Republican senators said their intent was to hold some negotiating leverage over licensing officials as they seek additional information about the way the agency gathers, retains and distributes information about people who apply for driver's licenses.

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Kurt Schaefer told colleagues during debate that, if the proposed cut ultimately became law, "they will not be able to issue any driver's licenses."

But Gov. Jay Nixon's budget director, Linda Luebbering, said Tuesday that the cut would not actually hit the budget line that finances driver's licenses. Instead, she said, it would prevent the processing of titles and registrations for boats, ATVs and manufactured homes. Luebbering said the cut also could prevent the state from issuing licenses to dealers and manufacturers of motor vehicles and boats.

She said funding for the issuance of driver's licenses actually is located in a separate budget line, which the Senate left untouched at $22.9 million.

"That's news to me, and that is not how they have ever explained the budget to us," Schaefer, R-Columbia, said when told about the state budget director's analysis.

The Senate budget plan also cuts funding to other sections of the Department of Revenue budget and the Department of Public Safety. Luebbering said some of those cuts could eliminate funding for a contractor that collects and distributes child support payments and for the licensing and training of police officers.

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