Budget Withholdings Slash Funds for Alternatives to Abortion and Public Defenders

This week Governor Nixon withheld $115 million from the state budget, citing slower revenue growth and his constitutional obligation to ensure a balanced budget. The cuts impact 131 programs, including two supported by the Missouri Catholic Conference.

The governor cut $2 million from the Alternatives to Abortion (ATA) program that provides services to women facing crisis pregnancies. That leaves ATA with $4 million, but the budget withhold will make it more difficult for services to be expanded that help women choose life over abortion for their unborn children.

Also cut was funding for the Public Defenders Office. The General Assembly approved a $4.5 million increase so the office could hire additional attorneys, but the governor trimmed the increase to only $1 million. A 2014 study showed that the Public Defender system needed an additional 270 attorneys if it was to adequately represent a caseload that fluctuates between 70,000 to 100,000 a year.

Governor Nixon said funding for some of the 131 impacted programs could be restored if the revenue picture improves. Stay tuned for more.

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