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Longtime Missouri budget director Luebbering to retire

Missouri Budget Director Linda Luebbering shares a laugh with Gov. Jay Nixon when she was asked about working for different governors.
Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

With the state of Missouri’s budget challenges easing, state budget chief Linda Luebbering has decided that it’s time to retire.

That announcement, made Wednesday by Gov. Jay Nixon, sent shock waves through the state Capitol, where Luebbering long has been known for her candor and accessibility.

“Her patience/competence will be missed,” Tweeted Katie Steele Danner,  director of the Missouri Division of Professional Registration.

Luebbering, 53, has been in Missouri state government for more than 25 years and has been the state’s budget director since Nixon took office in January 2009. She held the same post for two years during Gov. Bob Holden’s administration.

Both stints occurred during economic downturns, but Luebbering said her second one, during the Nixon administration, was more challenging due to the economic problems that began in 2008.

“Clearly, just from a fiscal standpoint, this one (was) international, national, much deeper, lasted much longer, (and was) much more challenging to get through,” Luebbering told reporters.  “(But) we are turning around, and revenues are looking better, the economy clearly has been looking better for quite some time, and it is starting to show up in our revenue, which is nice.”

From 2005-09, she served as finance director for the state of Pennsylvania’s Department of Public Welfare.

Luebbering has been a favorite among reporters because of her no-nonsense manner and accessibility. Every afternoon before the governor’s annual State of the State address, Luebbering would hold a lengthy tutorial in her office to go over the basic budget numbers.

Her office sends out a monthly update on the state’s finances, which usually can be followed up with a phone call or interview to go over specifics.

Luebbering says she decided to retire this summer because the state’s finances – on a rocky road for years – appear to have stabilized.  And summer is always a slower time for her office, which she says will make the transition easier.

Her last day is Aug. 6, right after her office releases its July status report. She’ll be replaced by Dan Haug, who currently serves as director of the Dept. of Mental Health’s division of administrative services.  Haug is also the former staff director for the Missouri Senate's Appropriations committee.

In typical Luebbering style, she said she has yet to decide what she’ll do next. “I haven’t allowed myself to think about it, because I need to focus on the job,’’ she said.

When asked by one reporter, she said she's not leaving to become a lobbyist or to take any other government-related job.

“No, I’m retiring, and I will explore my options when I am gone from here.”

Follow Jo Mannies and Marshall Griffin on Twitter:  @jmannies  @MarshallGReport

Jo Mannies is a freelance journalist and former political reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.
Marshal was a political reporter for St. Louis Public Radio until 2018.