Governor Blunt emphasizes health care, education and a tax cut in his third State of the State address. Blunt gives an upbeat assessment of the economy as he speaks to a joint session of the legislature. He says cuts to Medicaid two years ago saved the program and the state budget. Blunt now proposes MO HealthNet to replace Medicaid.
“What I propose with MO HealthNet is not a minor reform,” according to Blunt, adding, “With MO HealthNet, for the first time in Missouri history we will gurantee that every participant has access to primary and preventative care.”
Blunt proposes giving $60 million more to Federally Qualified Health Centers. Blunt also proposes legislation to expand health care coverage for others, such as cutting the franchise tax for businesses that provide health coverage for their employees. Blunt’s budget proposes $214 million more for the school funding formula, plus additional funding for a number of other educational programs. Blunt wants $40 million more for colleges, but calls on the Coordinating Board for Higher Education to create standards and measure performance.
Blunt says, “College costs must be controlled, and tuition must be more predictable.” Blunt states no tuition increase should exceed the rate of inflation. Blunt says the budget is bright enough to allow for a tax cut. Blunt endorses House Speaker Rod Jetton’s proposal to eliminate the state tax on Social Security benefits. That is expected to cost $100 million.
Blunt says the budget has a surplus, but cautions that government growth could eat up the extra money. He says his budget provides a $200 million cushion; an ending balance that he says can be used to fund key priorities including education and healthcare in future fiscal years.