Increased spending on education and another call to expand Medicaid highlighted Gov. Jay Nixon’s State of the State Address before the Missouri General Assembly Tuesday.
The speech received cheers and standing ovations from fellow Democrats, but stony silence from the Republican majorities in the House and Senate.
Gov. Nixon spent nearly 22 minutes talking about education spending and nearly 8 minutes on Medicaid, taking up just over half of his 56-minute-long address. The governor’s budget would increase spending on all levels of education by nearly half a billion dollars, with $278 million of that increase going to K-through-12 schools.
Nixon says it would put Missouri on the path to having its public school formula fully funded by next year.
“On the campaign trail, I bet almost all of us made a promise to invest in our students and our schools. Well, you know what? It’s time to put our budgets where our campaign brochures are!” Nixon said to roaring applause.
The Governor’s K-12 budget would also add an extra $15 million for school buses and more than $12 million for assessing student performance. College and university spending would increase by $42 million dollars, with the funding based on performance. An additional $22 million would go toward prepping students for careers in science, technology, engineering and math, and $17 million more for Bright Flight scholars.
After laying out much of his education proposal, Nixon then condemned GOP leaders for wanting to, quote, “experiment” with Missouri’s tax code.
“I’ve signed four tax cuts as your governor — specific, targeted tax cuts, that have helped our businesses expand and grow … but here’s what I won’t do — I will not support anything that takes money out of our classrooms,” Nixon said.
Near the end of his speech, Nixon called on lawmakers to expand Medicaid this year. He told them that federal dollars meant for Missouri are instead going to other states.
“Each day we don’t act, nearly 300,000 working Missourians go another day without the treatment they desperately need, for no other reason than they live in Branson instead of Bentonville, in Cape Girardeau instead of Cairo,” said Nixon.
Republicans remained quiet for most of the Democratic Governor’s address. During the GOP Response, House Speaker Tim Jones accused Nixon of not listening to the people who elected him.
“We want to import jobs and opportunity for all into our state, while our governor wants to import DC-style taxation, DC-based budgeting, and DC-inspired overspending," Jones said. "We will not allow this to happen on our watch.”
Jones said that the best way to fix health care is to restore caps on medical malpractice damages in lawsuits, and that cutting taxes would create growth and prosperity for all.
“We will work hard to pass the first significant tax reform our state has seen in nearly 100 years. You, the people of Missouri, know better how to spend your hard-earned dollars than the government,” Jones said.
Jones also called on lawmakers to pass legislation to make Missouri a right-to-work state, along with bills that would nullify federal gun control laws in Missouri and shield farmers from additional federal regulations.