Missouri House committee votes to cut park director’s salary in half

Rep. Craig Redmon
Rep. Craig Redmon

JEFFERSON CITY – Republican members of a House committee, frustrated after recent land buys by the Department of Natural Resources, voted Wednesday to cut the state parks director’s salary in half.

Bill Bryan, the director of Missouri State Parks, which is a division of DNR, would see his salary cut to $55,803 under an amendment sponsored by Rep. Craig Redmon, R-Canton.

“We’re still adding parks and we can’t take of the parks we have,” Redmon said. “I think that’s a bad managerial decision. If he were my employee I probably would’ve fired him.”

Redmon said that he didn’t appreciate the Department of Natural Resources’ lack of communication with lawmakers regarding plans to build a $52 million state park in Shannon County last year.

This year, lawmakers are considering bills to force the state to sell back 4,200 acres of Oregon County land DNR purchased using $11 million in settlement money from lead mining companies.

“Fool me once, shame on you,” Redmon said. “Fool me twice, shame on me.”

The Appropriations Committee for Agrictulture, Natural Resources and Conservation’s three Democrats voted against the amendment.

In a previous budget hearing, DNR Director Sara Parker Pauley said that Gov. Jay Nixon’s office had encouraged the department to buy the Oregon County land.

“So we’re punishing the park director because we don’t like Nixon’s policy on buying up new parks?” Rep. Tracy McCreery, D-St. Louis County, said.

“That’s a little bit it, yes,” Redmon, the chairman of the committee, said.

“I’m uncomfortable using a drastic salary cut just to make a political point,” McCreery said. “I don’t think that’s the right thing to do.”

Rep. Ben Harris, D-Hillsboro, said that when committees had cut certain salaries in the past, the affected departments just shifted money from elsewhere to compensate for the cuts.

The proposed cut now moves to the full House Budget Committee for consideration.