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Libraries feeling pinch of state budget fight

Tuesday, August 12, 2014 | 5:26 p.m. CDT

JOPLIN — A dispute between Gov. Jay Nixon and the Missouri legislature could cause some financial pain for libraries, particularly in rural areas.

Citing potential revenue loss from the sales tax cuts, Nixon vetoed or withheld more than $1 billion of the legislature's $27 billion budget, including more than $6.6 million budgeted for the state's public libraries, The Joplin Globe reported .

The withholding could cost the Carthage Public Library about $20,000, or 4 percent of its budget, leading to reductions in book buys and programming, and perhaps forcing closures if it continues for more than a year, Julie Yockey, the library's director, said. She has written a grant application asking for money to buy books and materials and says she is hopeful the funds will be released.

Nixon froze a $3.5 million state fund to help libraries with their general bills, and another $3.1 million for the Remote Electronic Access for Libraries program, which helps libraries fund costs associated with Internet and technology access.

The Neosho-Newton County Library expects a loss of about $25,000 this year, and has already lost its job accelerator and software tutorials, which are usually paid through the Remote Electronic Access for Libraries funding, director Ginny Ray said.

She assumes the money won't be available for next year either.

"We're kind of assuming the worst for the present, but hoping it will get better too," she said.

If the funding is not restored, the libraries also lose matching federal dollars. Under REAL, if $1.5 million in matching money is not found in the Missouri State Library's budget, the withholding could mean a loss of nearly $3 million from the federal government's Library Services and Technology Act.

"We haven't yet gone through to figure out whether we can come up with enough match dollars from other sources within state library funding, but we think that we will be able to do that," said state librarian Barbara Readingstet.

 


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