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Government, Politics & Issues

Club For Growth Kicks Off Ad Campaign To Limit Governor's Budget Powers

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The Missouri Club for Growth, a conservative campaign committee, has launched a barrage of TV ads around the state in favor of Amendment 10, a proposed constitutional amendment that would limit the power of the governor to balance the state’s budget.

The ads are to run through Election Day, said Todd Abrajano, a consultant for the group.

Abrajano declined to say who has donated the money to pay for the ads – and says Gov. Jay Nixon is to blame for the anonymity.

“The governor has made a point in previous tiffs with the Club for Growth to attack our donors instead of discussing the real issue at hand,” Abrajano said. “So we would like the governor to speak specifically to the issue, rather than attack the donors of our organization. If the governor doesn’t know who our donors are, then he certainly can’t attack them.”

Previously, much of Missouri Club for Growth’s money has come from wealthy financier Rex Sinquefield, the state’s top political donor.  Sinquefield has supported various conservative efforts, such as the proposed elimination of the state's income tax and the elimination of teacher tenure.

The Missouri Club for Growth doesn’t have to identify the source of the money for the ad campaign, because it is being financed by the Club’s educational arm – dubbed a “501C4” – which does not have to report its donors to the IRS.

The new ads, like Amendment 10, target the governor’s power to “withhold’’ money, or cut it outright, from the state budget in order to comply with the state constitution’s mandate that the budget be balanced at the end of each fiscal year.

The state constitution now allows a governor to make line-item vetoes in the budget approved annually by the General Assembly. The governor also can “withhold’’ spending, which can be restored if the state collects enough income.

The Club for Growth agrees with some Republican legislative critics who accuse the governor of playing politics with his “withholds.’’  Amendment 10 would require the governor to obtain the General Assembly’s consent for any withholds.  But the governor would still be required to make sure that the state had a balanced budget.

The Club for Growth has tailored its ads so that there are different ones in each ad market that highlight spending in the state budget for local projects or schools that has been withheld by the governor. The ads feature  the state Club for Growth's chair, Bev Randles.

Nixon said Monday that he opposed the amendment and believed that it would make it much harder for annually balance the state budget, if the General Assembly could overrule a governor’s withheld spending. 

Nixon and the General Assembly battled during the September veto session over tax breaks and proposed state spending that legislators had approved, and that he had blocked.  Nixon maintains that the General Assembly had approved an unbalanced state budget; legislative leaders say that's untrue.

In any case, it's unclear if Nixon or others will pay for an ad campaign to counter the ads now aired by the Club for Growth.

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