Missouri Governor Defends Record on Public Defender Budget

Aug 8, 2016

Credit Jacob Fenston / KBIA

  Missouri Governor Jay Nixon is defending his record after the head of the state's public defender system appointed him to a case in protest of recent funding restrictions.

Director Michael Barrett in a letter last week said budget cuts have prevented his office from hiring enough public defenders for those who can't afford representation.

So Barrett said he's appointing former attorney general Nixon to represent indigent clients.

Nixon told reporters Monday that funding for the office went up 15 percent since he's been governor. Nixon also said about $1.8 million went unspent last fiscal year.

The recent pushback comes after lawmakers budgeted a $4.5 million funding increase for public defenders this fiscal year. Nixon then cut that to $1 million.