Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon approved a school appropriation bill on Tuesday but ordered state education officials to disregard part of the new law that he says is unconstitutional.
A total of $43 million in funding cuts for K-12 schools are covered by the law. However, legislators decided that 150 of those schools — mostly from tax-rich suburbs and urban areas — should be exempted from cuts. Nixon argues that state law requires funding of schools to be allocated under the “school funding formula.” It would be unconstitutional and unlawful to do otherwise, said Nixon, a Democrat.
Some Republicans are incensed. The GOP has majority status in the Missouri House and Senate, and a large block of Republicans voted for the exemptions of some school districts from the cuts.
The problem for these lawmakers is that they can hardly argue that violating the state’s constitution is OK.
Their solution was to have Lloyd Smith, executive director of the Missouri Republican Party, make the comments.
“Gov. Jay Nixon has assumed near-dictatorial control of state government, exercising the powers of all three branches of government: Judging what is constitutional, legislating by rewriting the bill to fit his worldview, and using his executive powers to enforce his versions of the law,” Smith wrote in a release.
The question for Smith, then, is whether he would also have opposed such an executive move if President Barack Obama had done something similar with health care reform — based on his oath to protect and defend the Constitution?