Gov. Nixon’s Sky-High Travel Expenditures
While Missouri faces a $500 million budget deficit, Gov. Jay Nixon has increased his frequent flights around the state, hiding the cost of his trips by charging the expenses to various state agencies. Contributors to Show-Me Daily have highlighted this issue previously. According to an Associated Press article by David Lieb, the Missouri House leadership recently introduced legislation to end this practice.
The new policy would increase transparency in the state budget, which is clearly lacking. Taxpayers are picking up the cost of this travel, so the sheer amount of this line item should not be hidden from them. If the costs of these trips are diffused across the budgets of multiple government agencies, taxpayers will not have a clear picture of the real costs of Gov. Nixon’s travel. What good does the Missouri Accountability Portal provide if it is so disorganized?
According to Lieb’s article:
Nixon often bills a specific agency for his flights. But he sometimes splits his travel cost among about a dozen state offices when the trips have no direct connection to specific agencies, such as his attendance at sporting events.
Does anybody seriously believe that Gov. Nixon’s attendance at a sporting event generates an increase in economic output for the state economy? Additionally, when the governor travels around the state to announce a handful of jobs here and there, doesn’t that travel expenditure partly negate the ostensible benefit of the jobs?
Even though the state government faces a budget shortfall, and even though Nixon has made cuts in other agencies, he increases his own travel budget. If the governor were serious about promoting fiscal responsibility, he would take measures to reduce these expenditures, but he doesn’t. The fiscally responsible thing to do would be to seek out cheaper substitutes, such as videoconferencing, or to cease holding multiple ceremonies throughout the state for a single project.
Missourians would be better off if they weren’t picking up the cost of Nixon’s trips. These expenditures decrease the funds available in agency budgets by unexpected amounts, which means that the governor’s travel comes at the expense of other programs. If the travel expenditures were reduced, Missourians could keep a greater proportion of their earnings.