Jackson County Executive Frank White Approves Budget With Important Line-Item Vetoes

For those who really want to dig into the finances of the courthouse this year, here is a good place to start . . . The latest official statement from the Exec:

County Executive White approves 2023 county budget with limited line-item vetoes

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Jackson County Executive Frank White, Jr. today has signed into law Ordinance 5701, Jackson County’s 2023 budget, with limited line-item vetoes. These limited line-item vetoes, unlike Ordinance 5701 passed by the Legislature, do not cut existing county staff positions or salaries, reduce any county department’s budget nor violate state or county law.

“Members of the budget committee have said publicly that they prioritized life in their amended budget, but that’s difficult for me and the community to believe when, at the last minute, they cut millions of dollars in essential projects, programs and people,” said Jackson County Executive Frank White, Jr. “I have a responsibility to do what’s right and truly provide a better, more equitable quality of life for all county residents and that is the reason for my actions today.”

More than two dozen programs were amended, reduced or eliminated in Ordinance 5701 passed by the County Legislature. A comprehensive list can be found in County Executive White’s signing statement; however, the Legislature’s budget cuts include, but are not limited to:

    Existing County Associate Positions
    Our Healthy KC Eastside
    Jackson County Reproductive Equity Fund
    Free Veteran Admission at Liberty Memorial
    Westside Neighborhood Community Improvements

Because of the County Executive’s limited authority to appropriate funds through a signing statement or veto, he cannot simply propose an amendment to restore funding for programs or existing county positions and salaries as the budget committee chairman stated during the January 30 Legislative meeting. Such an amendment process would violate at least one provision in both the county’s code of ordinances as well as state law.

“I am committed to working with the Legislature to fix the foreseeable harm that Ordinance 5701 has caused and will cause Jackson County,” County Executive White said. “It is important for the community, county associates and County Legislature to know that I remain committed to the priorities we have outlined and I will not move forward until Our Healthy KC Eastside, the Jackson County Reproductive Equity Fund, Westside Community Improvements and other arbitrary, capricious and politically motivated cuts are restored.”

Though Ordinance 5701 cut essential programs and people, the Legislature’s budget amendment proposed over $1 million in new funding for the County Legislature and offices under their control. Legislative budget increases include, but are not limited to, numerous new staff positions, salary increases for new and returning staff, increased car allowances, more lobbyists, lawyers and travel expenses, all of which are detailed in County Executive White’s signing statement. County Executive White is using his authority to reduce these budget increases, without jeopardizing any existing staff positions or defunding any programs or projects that have previously been approved by the County Legislature.

The County Executive is also objecting to funding for outside agencies due to the lack of a competitive process. Such actions are in conflict with county policies, past practices and the current award process as outlined on the county legislative auditor’s website. Additionally, the Jackson County Counselor’s Office has determined that the County Legislature lacks the legal authority to increase the appropriation of the Health Fund. Therefore, County Executive White has used his line-item veto authority to reduce the appropriation and bring the county’s annual budget back into legal compliance.

County Executive White’s full signing statement of Ordinance 5701 is attached, as well as his 29 line-item vetoes and a legal memorandum from the Jackson County Counselor’s Office.


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