JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — A key member of the House budget committee became the latest Republican lawmaker to promise to block funds for a new NFL stadium in St. Louis unless the funds are approved by popular vote or allocated by the legislature.
Rep. Scott Fitzpatrick, R-Shell Knob, serves as Vice Chair of the House Budget Committee and is considered the most likely candidate to serve as budget chairman after the 2016 election cycle. Fitzpatrick penned a letter to Gov. Jay Nixon which he also made available to the public that says the second-highest ranking Republican on the House Budget committee will do “everything within my power as a legislator” to prevent new funds via Nixon’s current plan.
Nixon has long maintained that he’ll be extending the existing bonds for the Edward Jones Dome stadium to include the new stadium planned for the North St. Louis riverfront. Many state lawmakers say Nixon lacks the legal authority to extend those bonds for a new stadium, a dispute that was at least partially settled with a recent court ruling in St. Louis that found that a local vote was not needed to spend stadium funds and that Nixon’s stadium plan didn’t violate the existing standards for a stadium established in the 90’s.
While several lawmakers say they disagree with the court ruling, some have promised to block the funds as they make their way through the legislature next year. Lawmakers in Jefferson City approve the state’s annual budget, which includes payments on the state’s debt. Fitzpatrick and other lawmakers, like Sen. Rob Schaaf, have publicly promised to oppose any budget bills that include payment on the new bonds.
“It would be wise for you to reconsider your plan to attempt to move forward on this project without first receiving approval from the branch of government that decides if it will be funded,” Fitzpatrick writes. “The General Assembly never intended for statutes authorizing the original stadium bonds to be exploited in order to pay for a second stadium.”
Fitzpatrick promises to “fight vigorously” to prevent the general assembly from appropriating money to service the debt for the bonds. Nixon and his office have stated in the past that such threats by lawmakers to “refuse to pay the bills” put the state’s AAA credit rating at risk and poses a long-term financial risk, while Republican lawmakers say it’s Nixon’s hard-charging effort to extend existing stadium bonds that represent true financial instability.
Read the full letter here.
Collin Reischman was the Managing Editor for The Missouri Times, and a graduate of Webster University with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism.