Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens speaks during an interview in his office at the Missouri Capitol Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018, in Jefferson City, Mo. Greitens discussed having an extramarital affair in 2015 before taking office. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

Embattled Missouri governor proposes $68M in higher ed cuts

January 22, 2018 - 7:03 pm

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens made his first public appearance Monday in nearly two weeks since acknowledging an extramarital affair, announcing a budget plan that would cut roughly $68 million from colleges and universities.

In announcing his recommended $28.8 billion budget for the fiscal year that begins in July, the Republican governor said increased spending on health care "means we have to tighten up in other areas of government and spend less money." He cited growth in "administrative costs" at many universities in calling for a higher education funding cut compared to the current fiscal year.

Greitens faced pushback from some lawmakers over the education cuts.

"We cannot continue to balance the budget on the backs of students; they are the future workers and job creators Missouri desperately needs to cultivate," Columbia Republican Sen. Caleb Rowden said in a statement. "Continuing to neglect our public colleges, universities and trade schools seriously hinders Missouri's ability to compete. I look forward to working with my colleagues to pass a budget that better reflects Missourians' priorities."

He also is recommending a $40 million cut to the Department of Social Services "through Medicaid cost containment initiatives."

Greitens attempted to focus on the budget during the news conference at his Capitol office, but reporters repeatedly asked him about the scandal. At least five Republicans and several Democrats in the Legislature have called for his resignation.

Although Greitens has acknowledged the affair with his former hairdresser, he did not directly answer repeated questions from reporters over whether there is any truth to allegations that he took a partially nude photo of her. He said there was "no photograph for blackmail," one of the claims made in a secretly recorded conversation between the woman and her then-husband.

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