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Greitens unveils next year’s state budget, but media focus remains on his personal life

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens speaks to reporters after the 2017 adjourned. Greitens didn't have the smoothest relationship with legislators, including Republicans that control both chambers of the Missouri General Assembly.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens unveiled his proposed state budget in his first public appearance in nearly two weeks.

But much of the attention remained on his past extramarital affair. Nearly half the questions asked at Greitens’ budget rollout focused on allegations that he threatened to blackmail his former hairdresser.


He answered the first one by saying he made a personal mistake when he cheated on his wife and he denied making any blackmail threats.

“It’s a personal mistake for which i take full responsibility,” he said. “It’s something that Sheena and I dealt with years ago – we dealt with it privately, we dealt with it openly, and it was hard, but with loving family and a lot of prayer and tremendous support, we’ve made it through.”

He refused to answer any related questions when pressed by several reporters.

“I’ve addressed everything in the answer I just gave you and in the interviews I gave over the weekend … we’re now moving forward,” he said. “We have a lot of people in the state of Missouri who are counting on us.”

Greitens also brushed aside a question about his use of a messaging app that automatically deletes messages after they’ve been read: “We’re here to talk about the budget, (and) we’re cooperating fully with the attorney general’s inquiry ... we follow the law.”

As for Greitens’ proposed budget, it comes in at $28.8 billion for fiscal year 2019, which begins July 1. The budget would increase K-12 spending by $87 million but cuts higher education by $68 million. It would also cut Medicaid spending by $40 million.

“We’re not raising taxes on the people of Missouri,” he said. “Instead, we told departments to tighten their belts, we reduced the total number of state employees, and we made tough choices – we did that because that’s what the people of Missouri sent us here to do.”

Greitens’ pledge to not raise taxes includes Missouri’s fuel tax of 17.3 cents a gallon, one of the lowest in the nation. Some Republican lawmakers have proposed raising it anywhere from 1 to 6 cents a gallon.

Some proposed increases within Greitens’ FY2019 budget include:

  • $162.8 million for maintaining roads and bridges
  • $65.8 million for people with developmental disabilities
  • $9 million for combating cyber security breaches of state government data
  • $4.7 million for peer recovery coaches who work with opioid addicts

The governor’s full FY2019 budget proposal can be found here.

Follow Marshall Griffin on Twitter:@MarshallGReport

Marshal was a political reporter for St. Louis Public Radio until 2018.