Governor Jay Nixon announced today that the Department of Economic Development will release the previously frozen 1.5 million dollars in state funds needed for the Tour of Missouri to continue as planned. The seven-stage event is set to begin on September 7 in St. Louis.
"Missouri currently faces tremendous financial challenges, and the state must find ways to reduce spending," said Nixon in a statement released this afternoon. "Even as my administration continues to tighten its belt, I believe that the 2009 Tour of Missouri should go forward. The race will go on this year, and Missourians deserve to know that state funds for the event are used transparently and accountably. They should know precisely how money for the Tour of Missouri is being spent, and that the event is being run in a way that minimizes the cost to taxpayers."
A letter was sent to the State's budget and planning office that outlined a spread of cutbacks totaling 10 million dollars last week. The 1.5 million dollar portion frozen for the Tour of Missouri was nearly half of the total cost of running the event. The race costs 3.3 million dollars to go forward and according to Medallist Sports, under contract with Tour of Missouri Inc, a not for profit organization, the funds had already been spent and contracts signed for hundreds of thousands more. There was fear amongst the event's organizing committee that the state issues cut backs would force the Tour of Missouri to be cancelled.
"To ensure transparency and accountability, I asked the Office of Administration to seek a full and fair explanation of all expenditures connected with the Tour of Missouri in 2007 and 2008, and of budgeted expenditures and contracts for 2009," Nixon continued. "A representative from the Office of Administration met today with representatives of the Department of Economic Development, the Division of Tourism and Tour of Missouri, Inc. Because of assurances from the Division of Tourism and the Tour of Missouri, Inc. that they are now willing to share records regarding spending on previous races and planned spending for this year's race, the Office of Budget and Planning will immediately begin to provide state funds for the 2009 Tour of Missouri."