House members called out the governor on his office budget.
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House members called out the governor on his office budget.

Date: February 7, 2012
By: Jordan Shapiro
State Capitol Bureau
Links: The budget proposals

JEFFERSON CITY - Gov. Jay Nixon's office budget was under fire from the House General Administration Appropriations over employees billed to other state agencies.

Committee Chairman Mark Parkinson, R-St. Charles, questioned John Watson, the governor's chief of staff, over employees working for the governor, but who are listed under the Department of Insurance and paid by other state agencies.

"Why not do the right thing and put them on the governor's office budget?" Parkinson asked.

Watson said the employees in question deal exclusively with the governor's appointments to various state boards and commissions.

"What we have tried to do is the resources that those folks are handling on a day to day basis for their duties are being paid for out of those resources by which they are doing the work," Watson said.

House Budget Chair Ryan Silvey, R-Kansas City, said he was not surprised by Nixon's employee shuffle.

"King Jay is going to do what King Jay wants to do," Silvey said.

Last year Silvey tried to limit the governor's ability to bill other agencies for staffers by inserting language in the budget preventing this action. Nixon found a way around the language.

"The governor is an attorney and his staff are attorneys. They found a loophole," Silvey said.

In his 2013 budget proposal, Nixon touted a reduction of 8 full-time employees from his office for a $60,000 savings. Watson, however said these positions are not currently filled and have been vacant. Silvey said the governor's reductions "don't add up" considering the employees billed to other agencies.  

"This is the most top-heavy inflated staff," Silvey said of the governor's office budget, which includes five aides who make more than $100,000 annually.

Employees are not the only thing the governor has billed to other state agencies. Last year Nixon was criticized by leaders of both political parties for billing $500,000 worth of travel to agencies since taking office in 2009.

The governor was not available for comment and the voice mail of his communications director was full.


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