Friday, January 26, 2018
Kansas City Democrat: Greitens did not deny taking nude photo of his mistress
Missouri's public colleges and universities would endure deep funding cuts for the second year in a row under the $28.75 billion state operating budget Republican Gov. Eric Greitens proposed on Jan. 22 for the 2019 fiscal year. Under the governor's plan, appropriations for public colleges and universities in FY 2019, which begins July 1, would be lower than they were in FY 1998 - more than two decades ago.
Greitens' higher education budget calls for an additional $68 million in cuts from two- and four-year institutions while making permanent in the upcoming budget an additional $36 million cut he unilaterally imposed for the current fiscal year, for a total reduction of $104 million from FY 2018 appropriated levels.
On K-12 education funding, during the current fiscal year lawmakers were able to claim to have fully funded the statutory formula for distributing state money to local public school districts for the first time in decades. The claim of full funding, however, was largely an illusion since to achieve it the Republican-controlled General Assembly first had to rewrite the law to reduce the cost of claiming full funding by $400 million.
But even the illusion of full funding of public schools hasn't lasted long as Greitens proposed providing only about half the $99 million that would be needed under the rewritten formula to claim full funding in FY 2019. Greitens also recommended making permanent for next year $13 million of a $15 million cut to local districts' student transportation costs that he unilaterally imposed for the current fiscal year.
The governor is constitutionally required to present lawmakers with a proposed spending for the upcoming fiscal year, but his recommendations aren't binding on lawmakers, who are expected to modify or reject many of the governor's proposals. The legislature must pass the various appropriations bills that make up the state budget no later than May 11.
Greitens' budget announcement during a news conference in his Capitol office marked his first public appearance since admitting on Jan. 10 to an extramarital affair in 2015 before becoming governor.
Until a pair of interviews with select media outlets two days earlier, Greitens hadn't personally addressed allegations that he had threated to blackmail his former mistress with a nude photograph he had taken of her. In those interviews, he said there was no attempted blackmail but avoided giving "yes" or "no" answers as to whether he photographed the woman in a state of undress.
Greitens was repeatedly asked about the issue during the budget news conference and couched his words carefully, saying, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch: "There was no photograph for blackmail. There was no threat of using a photograph for blackmail." He did not, however, deny taking a photograph.