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Mo. disasters cost $36M; far less than expected

Posted: July 12, 2013 9:00 a.m.
Updated: July 12, 2013 9:00 a.m.
 

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Confronted by a spate of natural disasters, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon cut funding for education and stockpiled tax revenues two years ago while committing $150 million to respond to the deadly Joplin tornado and widespread flooding.

As it turns out, most of that money never was spent — nor needed — for disaster aid.

Missouri's final tab from a disastrous 2011 totaled a little over $36 million, according to figures compiled for The Associated Press by the state's budget chief. That's merely a quarter of the amount Nixon had committed.

The rest of the money — about $114 million — went to other government purposes, though exactly what it was used for is not clear.

"It would have gone into the big budget picture," said Linda Luebbering, the director of Nixon's Division of Budget and Planning.

There was no dollar-for-dollar accounting of the leftover disaster money. The cuts to colleges never specifically were restored. The money simply got absorbed into the pool of general revenues spent on government operations and services during 2012 and 2013, Luebbering said.

That revelation provided an "I-told-you-so" moment for some lawmakers.

"To me, it was an overreach on his part — nothing illegal or unethical about it — (but) we thought at the time that the numbers were too high, and it turned out that they are," said House Budget Committee Chairman Rick Stream, a Republican from the St. Louis suburb of Kirkwood.

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