The Cole County Circuit Clerk on Thursday issued a $118 million garnishment against the Missouri Department of Corrections after the state failed to satisfy a judgment in a class-action brought by corrections officers for unpaid overtime.

The state, in response, directed Central Bank and Jefferson Bank not to honor the garnishment because there is no appropriation for legal costs big enough to pay it, State Treasurer Scott Fitzpatrick said Friday.

Finding the cash will further strain a state budget already facing uncertainty over declining income tax receipts.

In August, a Cole County jury awarded corrections officers employed after 2007 more than $113.7 million for time spent on required duties before and after they clocked in and out from their posts. Since the verdict, more than $4.8 million in post-judgment interest has accrued.

The garnishment was issued the same day it was requested by Gary Burger, the attorney representing the corrections officers.

Burger did not immediately return a call Friday afternoon seeking comment. He has also filed a motion to hold the department in contempt for failing to abide by the court’s order. A hearing on that motion is set for April 1.

The Missouri Attorney General’s Office, which is appealing the case in the Western District Court of Appeals, declined to comment Friday citing ongoing litigation.

The department, in addition to paying the back wages, was also mandated to install a timekeeping system that maintains accurate records of all hours worked and to notify the Missouri Corrections Officers Association once it is implemented.

Former Attorney General Josh Hawley in December sought to stay that order, arguing the department would likely win its appeal and any outlay for a new system could not be retrieved after the fact.

“Moreover, MDOC is likely to prevail on appeal on its argument that it breached no contractual obligations whatsoever,” the motion reads. “Forcing it to make extra-conceptual capital improvements using funds that were not appropriated for that purpose will substantially prejudice MDOC as those expenditures can not be unwound after MDOC prevails on appeal.”

The appeals court on Jan. 31 denied the stay. Tim Cutt, a grievance officer for the Corrections Officers Association, said failing to implement the timekeeping system is adding costs to the litigation.

“Part of that court order was to install time clocks at every institution to track the actual time our officers are in and out of there and to pay them for that time,” Cutt said. “They have not done that and they are about $4.5 million backed up paying our guys on that one too.”

Fitzpatrick, who must sign every check issued by the state, said he was notified of the garnishment by the Attorney General's office.

"We contacted the bank and told them 'no, there is no appropriation for that,' so they are not authorized to withdraw money from the account," Fitzpatrick said.

The Missouri Constitution prohibits the state from spending money without an appropriation, Fitzpatrick said.

The ability of the courts to order the state to spend money without an appropriation, however, are unclear. During the 1980s and 1990s, desegregation cases in St. Louis and Kansas City cost the state more than $2 billion and most of the money was withdrawn from the treasury based on federal court orders and without a legislative appropriation.

That history needs study, Fitzpatrick said.

"We would certainly do some research on the precedent," he said. "We are not to that point yet. We will cross that bridge if and when we come to it."

So far, Fitzpatrick said, Gov. Mike Parson has not asked for an appropriation to pay the corrections officers and it is not part of the legislative budget plan.

The House Budget Committee next week will finalize its version of the state budget for the coming fiscal year. The spending plan will go to the floor of the House for action in the final week of March.

Parson’s budget projects a $516 million surplus in the current year and his proposal for the year beginning July 1 left $116 million unspent. In committee work this past week, state Rep. Kip Kendrick, D-Columbia, said that unspent remainder has been padded.

Kendrick, the committee’s ranking Democrat, said he was told the bottom line was increased to fund the judgment.

“I had just been alerted to the possibility that a judgment was going to come out,” he said. “I had no idea it was going to be a garnishment. I believe that the budget committee will be very surprised when they hear this. It will throw a wrench in the current budgeting process that is underway for FY20.”

Joyce found that the department's timekeeping practices required officers to clock in and out when they arrived at and departed from their assigned post. But officers were required to complete multiple tasks, and in some cases respond to emergency or other situations, before arriving at their posts or after leaving.

Officers arrive at a secured entrance to the prison in uniform and are required to undergo a search and step through a metal detector. They were also required to log their entry electronically or on paper and/or submit to a fingerprint or palm scan.

Keys or radios would also have to be picked up or returned before walking to their post or on their way out. Sometimes lines formed during these activities, adding to their unpaid time. Officers were also required to receive post assignments from a supervisor and pass along information.

If fights, emergencies or criminal activity were observed during any of the pre- or post-shift activities, officers were expected to act, despite not being compensated, according to case documents.