Amid questions about affair, Greitens proposes $68M in higher ed - KMOV.com

Amid questions about affair, Greitens proposes $68M in higher ed cuts

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Missouri Governor Eric Greitens takes a reporters question as he unveils the new state budget during a press conference at the State Capitol in Jefferson City, Missouri on January 22, 2018.  Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI Missouri Governor Eric Greitens takes a reporters question as he unveils the new state budget during a press conference at the State Capitol in Jefferson City, Missouri on January 22, 2018. Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP / KMOV.com) -- Missouri Republican Gov. Eric Greitens made his first public appearance in nearly two weeks since acknowledging an extramarital affair, announcing a budget plan that would slice at least $68 million from public colleges and universities, but the budget wasn't the only thing discussed.

Read: Blackmail alleged as Governor Greitens admits to extramarital affair

It was the second time in three days the governor refused to answer questions about whether he took a compromising photo of his mistress. News 4 has been asking to interview the governor since we broke the news of his affair, which he has admitted to, and allegations that he took a photo of his mistress in a compromising position as blackmail, which has repeatedly denied.

Asked in the news conference by multiple reporters, including News 4's Lauren Trager, about his affair and the allegations, the governor repeatedly read from prepared notes, again admitting to the affair and repeating his denial that there was no blackmail or violence in the relationship. Greitens repeatedly refused to answer questions about the allegations of his tying up the woman, blindfolding her and taking a photograph.  In an interview with the Associated Press over the weekend, he didn't deny those allegations---but would not address them specifically saying it was a "private matter."   

The governor says he is confident he can move forward from this. Some lawmakers say it may be much harder for Greitens to achieve his agenda items from here, after these allegations.

Greitens pitched the cut on Monday while outlining his roughly $28.8 billion budget recommendation for the fiscal year that begins in July. He's also asking for about $48 million less than what's called for under state law to fully fund K-12 public schools.

“The budget we’re introducing today is a common-sense, conservative budget. We’re watching out for the tax dollars of the people of Missouri, making important investments in Missouri’s future, and also making tough decisions to make sure we don’t burden our children with debt,” said Governor Greitens.

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."

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