Monday, February 02, 2009

Nixon Boots Kinder Off Census Committee

Governor Nixon has signed an executive order that removes Lieutenant Governor Kinder from a statewide Census committee.
The order says that Commissioner of Administration, Kelvin Simmons, will now chair the Complete Count Committee. Last year, when Governor Blunt created the committee, he appointed Kinder the chair.

The committee is designed to make sure Missouri gets an accurate count of its population in the 2010 Census. The state faces the possible loss of a U.S. House seat, based on population loss.

Nixon spokesperson Jack Cardetti said the change had to do with budget savings and the ability of the Office of Administration to handle demographic data. Jeff Mazur of the Office of Administration provided The Notebook with a budget comparison.

The Lieutenant Governor's office was allotted $735,565 to do the work.
The Office of Administration was alloted $559,821.
That's a difference of about $175,744.

The difference? The Lt. Gov's budget included money for three staff assistants. The OA makes the case it can do the same work without them.

But Kinder's office said it was planning to cut at least $200,000 from their budget, by using web-conferencing for meetings and other cost-cutting measures. "Just because you're allotted the money, doesn't mean you have to spend it all," said Gary McElyea, a spokesperson for Kinder.

Asked for reaction, McElyea said: "We were notified a few hours before the State of the State by OA that the Governor would be transferring the committee. We weren't notified by the Governor's office. It's understandable that there would be changes, but we've put quite a bit of ground work into this, organization, communication with members about meetings. Now we're forced to take a step backwards. It doesn't seem cost-effective. We expected to cut down on costs considerably."

The census committee had scheduled its first meeting for February 11th, but that meeting has now been put off, according to McElyea.

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