JEFFERSON CITY – Missouri Lt. Gov. Mike Parson is asking for a larger office budget to allow him to hire a personal driver.
The request from Parson comes as Gov. Eric Greitens has proposed cuts in funding to colleges and universities and to social service programs. Both Greitens and Parson are Republicans.
Parson said Tuesday that his budget of $541,000 needs an additional $50,000 so a driver is available for the many trips he takes on state business, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. Parson, a former state senator from Bolivar, said he traveled to 150 destinations in Missouri last year.
"I don't have anybody to help drive," Parson said in testimony Tuesday. "The state of Missouri is a big state. It takes a lot to travel."
The Post-Dispatch said Parson was reimbursed $4,622 for travel expenses last year, the most of any statewide elected official, according to travel records.
Parson also sought more money last year, but the Senate removed his request before the budget was approved.
The lieutenant governor's salary of about $86,600 is the lowest of Missouri's statewide elected officials and he has the smallest staff.
Earlier this month, Greitens revealed a $28.7 billion budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1. The budget calls for nearly $70 million in cuts to higher education. The plan also would cut $40 million from the social services budget through "Medicaid cost containment initiatives."
In addition to funding for a driver, Parson is seeking funding for legal assistance in the lieutenant governor's office, which has no legal staff. His office last year conducted an eight-month investigation of the St. Louis Veterans Home. He said his staff could have used some legal advice during the investigation.