While the Attorney General’s office is taking on cases to combat human trafficking and is even investigating Google, they are planning on doing that with a slightly smaller budget.
The proposed core operating budget for the 2019 fiscal year is $25,332,059.
The cut Attorney General Josh Hawley recommends is the elimination of two, full time, executive administrative positions: an IT post and one executive assistant. According to Hawley this would equal to about $100,000. A cut this small would amount to less than one percent of the budget.
Despite asking for a reduction in the operating budget, Hawley emphasized the office’s commitment to helping Missouri citizens.
“While our caseload is what we believe to be at an all-time high, we have over thirty-six thousand ongoing litigation matters. We are committed to doing more with less and in keeping with this fiscal discipline, we are asking for less this year,” Hawley said.
Hawley stated the office asked for decrease in funding the previous year as well.
One aspect of the budget representatives inquired Hawley about was on travel. It currently includes reimbursements for employees who use their own cars to travel to different areas across Missouri for work. Rep. Greg Razer, D-Kansas City, asked Hawley to clarify if that included expenses for Hawley to commute to the Capitol, bringing up the lawsuit against Hawley for not residing in Jefferson City.
“Just to confirm, none of this money is going back to reimburse you for travel from here to Columbia,” Razer said.
Hawley confirmed that the budget did not include money for his commute.
While Hawley repeatedly stated that the office is committed to doing more with less, Rep. Peter Merideth, D-St. Louis, pointed to a recent sanction held against the attorney general’s office for not filing documents on time.
“Are you understaffed? Is there a reason that you’re not able to comply with those requests on time?” Merideth asked.
Hawley responded that his office has filed a motion to reconsider the sanctions in question and that their attorney in this case has made “all good faith” efforts to comply with the requests of the plaintiff’s attorneys.