The 2023 Jackson County budget (Ordinance 5701), approved by the Legislature on January 30th, was signed into law on February 8th, with County Executive Frank White, Jr. issuing a press release to explain a series of line-item vetoes made to the budget.
“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,” White said. “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.”
White pointed to more than two dozen programs the Legislature amended, reduced or eliminated in the 2023 budget, including Our Healthy KC Eastside, Jackson County Reproductive Equity Fund, Westside Neighborhood community improvements, and free veteran admission at Liberty Memorial.
“I am committed to working with the Legislature to fix the foreseeable harm that Ordinance 5701 has caused and will cause Jackson County,” 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.”
White reduced budget increases for new staff positions, salary increases for new and returning staff, increased car allowances, lobbyists, lawyers and travel expenses. White stated the reductions would not jeopardize any existing staff positions or defund programs or projects that have previously been approved by the County Legislature.
White also objected to funding for outside agencies due to the lack of a competitive process, stating "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 determined that the County Legislature lacks the legal authority to increase the appropriation of the Health Fund. White used his line-item veto authority to reduce the appropriation to bring the budget back into compliance.
County Executive White’s full signing statement of Ordinance 5701 is provided below as well as his 29 line-item vetoes and a legal memorandum from the Jackson County Counselor’s Office.