JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Gov. Jay Nixon is looking to bolster the 2017 budget with the settlement from Volkswagen’s emissions cheating scandal. The $8.7 million settlement was transferred to the state’s general fund earlier in the week by Attorney General Chris Koster.
Governor Jay Nixon announced Thursday that he would use it to offset cuts he made earlier this year to the state’s $27 billion budget.
“I am making the money available so we can provide additional funding to school transportation, first responders and Missouri’s agricultural producers,” Gov. Nixon said. “Because of Missouri’s fiscal discipline we are able to immediately release these funds to support these important budget priorities.”
He also restored a $3 million cut to biodiesel subsidies, a move which has been commended by Missouri’s soybean farmers, as well as $1.2 million in funding to the State Emergency Management Agency to support disaster response.
The Missouri Soybean Association says it’s a step in paying down the $9.6 million currently owed to Missouri farmers who invested in using soybeans as a renewable fuel source a decade ago.
“Biodiesel is an important driver for the soybean market in Missouri, as well as on the national and global levels,” Missouri Soybean Association President Matt McCrate said. “Missouri is a top state for biodiesel production, and benefits greatly from the renewable fuel’s economic and environmental contributions. We appreciate the support of those benefits from our elected leaders, as well as their efforts to make good on commitments to repay that outstanding debt.”
Governor Nixon had recommended repaying that debt during his 2016 State of the State address, and signed House Bill 2006 this spring to do just that. But he withheld those funds as part of an estimated $175 million cuts, citing a slow growth in revenues.
With the $8.7 million settlement, and a separate release of money earlier this month, Gov. Nixon has restored roughly $20 million of the total.
Meanwhile, some Missourians could expect to see money from Volkswagen as well.
The German automaker agreed to pay more than $40 million in a vehicle buy-back or repair program, which will include a minimum of $5,000 per car for affected Missourians.
Volkswagen will also pay as much as $39 million for environmental air remediation programs in the Show Me State, which will be directed by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources over the next few years.
Benjamin Peters is a reporter for the Missouri Times and Missouri Times Magazine, and also produces the #MoLeg Podcast. He joined the Missouri Times in 2016 after working as a sports editor and TV news producer in mid-Missouri. Benjamin is a graduate of Missouri State University in Springfield. To contact Benjamin, email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @BenjaminDPeters.