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By Ben Delaney
As part of a $430 million budget-reduction plan, the State of Missouri has frozen $1.5 million slated for the Sept. 7-13 Tour of Missouri. Race officials were notified Thursday of the financial situation, which if not remedied would cancel this year’s event.
“We are very surprised and shocked that this has happened,” said Chris Aronholt, managing partner of Medalist Sports, which runs the Tour of Missouri. “We have a signed contract. This is the third year of a three-year commitment.”
Missouri’s fiscal budget starts July 1. This year, the state budget director asked all departments for recommendations on cuts, said Jack Cardetti, spokesman for Gov. Jay Nixon.
“The department of economic development, just like all departments, made $10 million of recommendations, including $1.5 million for the race here,” Cardetti said. “That was a recommendation that the budget director will review and decide on in the next couple of weeks.”
The state now has a total of $430 million of cuts or restricted programs.
“The governor is concerned that we get ahead of these fiscal measures, so we don’t end up in the situation like California or other states,” Cardetti said. “We don’t want to be forced to do things like close schools or prisons. So we’ll look at all these measures across the board and see which ones we will implement.”
The race has a budget of approximately $3.5 million, according to Steve Brunner, president of KOM Sports, the marketing arm of Medalist. “We need that $1.5 million to drive the heart of what we’re doing, and we make up the rest on sponsorship.”
Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, a Republican, was an early champion of the race, and continues to support the event. Gov. Nixon, a Democrat, took over the office this year.
“We’re working closely with the Lt. Gov. to understand why the money has been frozen,” Aronholt said. “Operationally we are doing are best to stay focused and on task. We are hoping the state of Missouri will be able to right the ship. I think it’s some political games that will be straightened out here shortly.”