Missouri’s head public defender warns judges of budget crunch

10/21/2013 9:00 PM

10/21/2013 9:00 PM

The head of Missouri’s public defender system says a hiring freeze will start Nov. 1 and furloughs could be necessary in January if Gov. Jay Nixon does not release additional money budgeted for the system.

State Public Defender Cat Kelly sent notices last week to judges warning “that your local public defender offices will be running into some unforeseen staff shortages in the not too distant future.”

Kelly said the agency has been trying to control costs since Nixon withheld $1.4 million when the budget year began July 1. Vacancies have been held open an extra 60 days, but that hasn’t generated enough savings.

Nixon said Monday that agency wasn’t singled out, and his administration would release funds as money becomes available.

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