Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens will withhold $251 million in spending to make Missouri’s budget work, and he vetoed a bill meant to prevent budget cuts to in-home care for elderly and disabled Missourians.
Greitens announced late Friday, the last day of the fiscal year, that he had signed Missouri’s $27 billion budget and had vetoed the bill that was meant to prevent cuts to in-home and nursing home care for 8,000 disabled or elderly Missourians.
“We were sent here to make tough decisions. That’s what we’re doing. Politicians were trying to spend money we don’t have. So we’re left with two choices: raise taxes or cut spending. I will not raise your taxes,” Greitens said in a statement.
The governor will withhold $36 million in higher education funding and $15 million from school transportation funding.
Greitens will also reduce the reimbursement rate for Medicaid providers by 1.5 percent to save $12 million, and he will hold onto $60 million earmarked for the Department of Social Services, the agency that oversees Medicaid.
The governor also will reduce spending on foster care by more than $400,000 and on youth residential treatment facilities by more than $1.9 million.
The budget moves will take effect Saturday.
Amy Blouin, the executive director of the Missouri Budget Project, criticized the reductions.
“Poor tax policies got Missouri into the budget bind it’s in. It shouldn’t be on the backs of low-income Missourians or Missourians with disabilities to get the state out,” Blouin said.
She said some of the moves may not have an immediate impact but that Greitens’ decision to veto the in-home care bill would hit Missourians with serious health needs right away.
Greitens blasted the bill, which would have enabled his office to sweep surplus funds to prevent cuts to in-home and nursing care, as “a clearly unconstitutional, last-minute budget gimmick.”
Greitens said the bill, which would have allowed his office to sweep up to $35.4 million for nursing care, “would put funds for abused children, injured workers, and first responders in jeopardy.”
Sen. Ryan Silvey, a Kansas City Republican, called the governor’s criticism of the bipartisan legislation disingenuous.
“He either misunderstood the bill or he is intentionally deflecting from the fact that he just cut in-home services for thousands of seniors,” Silvey said.
Silvey said the bill gave Greitens the discretion to choose which funds to sweep and did not require any sweeps of funds for abused children.
“It shows to me and other serious policymakers that he is more concerned with his image and social media presence than governing the state,” Silvey said.
Also Friday, Greitens said he would let a bill repealing a St. Louis minimum wage become law without his signature.
The decision means St. Louis’ $10-an-hour minimum wage that has been in place since early May will come to an end Aug. 28 when new Missouri laws take effect.
The minimum wage in St. Louis had been scheduled to rise to $11 in January under the local ordinance passed in 2015. That’s significantly higher than Missouri’s minimum wage of $7.70 an hour.
A bill passed by Missouri’s Republican-led Legislature prohibits local minimum wages and nullifies any already in effect.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.