At State of the State address, Nixon presents a budget with wide cuts

Jan 18, 2012

Governor Jay Nixon delivered his annual State of the State Address last night Tuesday night.  He touched briefly on the state budget and other issues, while spending lots of time showcasing his administration’s accomplishments and praising the values of Missouri citizens as he prepares for his re-election bid this fall.  Marshall Griffin recaps the address from Jefferson City:

Nixon’s budget for next year contains 508 million dollars in cuts.  They include nearly 192 million dollars in reductions to Medicaid, a 106 million-dollar cut to Higher Education, restructuring 41 million dollars worth of debt, and other cuts.  Meanwhile, the Governor is proposing a 5-million-dollar increase for K-through-12 schools:

 “For the past three years, even in challenging budget times, we’ve maintained level funding for our K-12 classrooms…this year we’re gonna take the next step…the budget I present tonight provides record funding for our K-12 classrooms because it’s the right thing to do.”

The 5-million-dollar increase still falls short of fully funding the state’s K-through-12 foundation formula.  Nixon injected politics into his speech as well, as he called on lawmakers to restore campaign contribution limits.  That likely won’t happen with a GOP-top-heavy General Assembly.  And the Governor took a swipe at Republican leaders for not reforming the state’s tax credit system:

 “Over the past four years, more than 2 billion dollars in state tax credits have been redeemed.  We all know that dollars spent on tax credits are dollars we can’t invest in other critical priorities.”

House and Senate Republicans were unable to compromise last year on the role tax credits should play in the state’s economy, and there’s no indication so far that they’ve budged this year.  But they put up a united front Tuesday as two high-ranking Republicans from each chamber delivered the GOP response to the Democratic governor’s address.  They took the place of Lt. Governor Peter Kinder, who chose not to challenge Nixon for Governor.  Kinder had delivered the last three Republican responses.  Kurt Schaefer of Columbia chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee.  He took the governor to task over education funding:

“Over the past three years, state funding for school districts and teachers has been slashed and underfunded by seven percent, or 232 million dollars…and funding for Missouri’s public higher education institutions and scholarships has been reduced by more than 14 percent.”

House Majority Floor Leader Tim Jones criticized Nixon’s handling of Missouri’s economy.  He accused the governor of, quote, “not doing his homework” prior to announcing incentives for a failed artificial sweetener plant in the town of Moberly:

 “The company went bankrupt and the city of Moberly was left with tens of millions of dollars of debt and zero new jobs…instead of taking responsibility, Jay Nixon pointed fingers and even claimed he doesn’t run his own department.”

Other items in the governor’s budget include the elimination of more than 800 state jobs.  But the state workers who remain will be getting a two percent raise one year from now.  Governor Nixon’s entire spending plan for Fiscal Year 2013 comes in at just under 23 billion dollars.  In Jefferson City I’m Marshall Griffin, St. Louis Public Radio.