January 25, 2015

#MoSOTS: Nixon revisits familiar themes, calls for bipartisanship (AUDIO)

In his seventh State of the State speech, Gov. Jay Nixon told a joint session of the Legislature, “A lot has changed since last year.”

Not much has changed in his year-to-year priorities, but a lot has changed for Nixon.

He now faces an adversarial supermajority in the Legislature,  new constitutional restrictions on how he spends and withholds money, and continuing racial unrest in Ferguson that thrust his state–and his handling of the situation–into national notoriety.

By creating an Office of Community Engagement and a Ferguson Commission, Nixon says he has taken “meaningful steps forward in Ferguson,” but added “the legacy of Ferguson will be determined by what we do next.”

Nixon suggested that lawmakers:

– reform municipal courts

– update the state statute governing deadly force to be consistent with constitutional requirements and U. S. Supreme Court precedent;

– support policies that foster racial understanding and compassion;

– create greater economic opportunity and encourage personal responsibility;

– strengthen failing schools and provide access to affordable health care;

– recruit, train and certify professional law enforcement that reflects the diversity of the community it serves.

standing O

Missouri legislators applaud Nixon’s praise for police.

There was little response to this list from the GOP side of the room until Nixon praised law enforcement: “We are proud of our law enforcement, for all they do, each and every day.”

This drew a standing ovation from the joint assembly.

Nixon’s renewed plea to expand Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act drew a deadpan response from Republicans, as did his suggestion to consider a gas tax or a toll road on Interstate 70 to improve roads and bridges. There has been no increase in the Missouri gas tax in about 20 years.

As in years past, he touted the recovery of the state’s auto industry, praising about 40 United Auto Worker’s union members who attended and cheered from the gallery.

“Your work ethic is second to none. Your product is the best in the world. You make Missouri proud,” Nixon said amidst their cheers.

The governor praised public schools and calls for “record funding for K-12 education” but some House leaders took issue with his math.

Nixon called for boosting cattle processing inside Missouri and announced he will be going to Cuba with state Director of Agriculture Richard Fordyce in March to “make sure Missouri is first in the door” in agricultural trade.

He also proposed building a new veterans’ home along with modernizing existing ones.

Listen to the entire 2015 State of the State speech (47:38):


Amendment 10 changes how Nixon proposes spending

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon’s (D) proposed spending plan for the new fiscal year includes an attempt to get around restrictions placed on him by voters.

Missouri Budget Director Linda Luebbering

Missouri Budget Director Linda Luebbering

Missouri voters changed the Constitution last year to give the legislature new powers to override a governor’s budget restrictions. Another part of that amendment said a governor can’t include in his budget proposals money based on the passage of legislation that hasn’t passed, as Nixon has done in past years.

Nixon attempts to get around that by issuing with his budget proposal a proclamation. His budget director Linda Luebbering says that outlines 3 things he wants the legislature to pass, and how money resulting from their passage could be used.

“Even though that revenue is not included in his budget, he is suggesting where that money should go,” said Luebbering.

For example, Nixon said in his State of the State Address he is proposing $150-million for K-12 education, but only $50-million of that is actually in the budget.

“There’s $21-million through school district trust fund payments, and then an additional $79-million that the governor is proposing in the proclamation if the legislature approves the necessary legislation.”

That “necessary legislation” includes Medicaid expansion, which the Republican supermajorities in both chambers largely oppose.

Luebbering says Nixon’s approach doesn’t violate that Constitutional amendment. “He can certainly ask the legislature to pass any legislation, but he just cannot count on it in his actual budget,” said Luebbering.

Nixon also calls on lawmakers to pass tax amnesty legislation, which in past years has passed the House and the Senate but has never become law, and to authorize reforms in collections to bring in back taxes. In all he writes the three measures would generate $178-million dollars.

Besides K-12 education proposes expanding that money on things including performance and equity funding for higher education, a rate increase for long-term care and community service providers in the Medicaid program, and dental benefits for existing adult Medicaid clients.

Missouri Speaker’s ‘real’ response to Nixon’s State of the State (VIDEO)

Newly-elected Speaker of the House John Diehl was tapped to deliver the official pre-taped Republican response to Governor Jay Nixon’s State of the State Address, but his unscripted response to reporters afterwards revealed more.

After the speech, Diehl spoke candidly about what Nixon actually said, or didn’t say if you ask Diehl.

Diehl accused Nixon of speaking in generalities about, but not having a plan for transportation or ethics. The Speaker also took Nixon to task over the amount of money he proposes spending for K-12 education.

Watch The Video Below To See More Of Diehl’s Unscripted Response

#MOSOTS: Missouri Senate leader not concerned about Governor’s message

The leader of the Republican supermajority in the state Senate says he isn’t concerned with what Governor Jay Nixon (D) has to say in his State of the State Address tonight.

Senator Tom Dempsey (R-St. Charles)

Senator Tom Dempsey (R-St. Charles)

Senate President Tom Dempsey (R-St. Charles) says he hasn’t thought much about what the governor might say when he outlines his policy and spending priorities. After all, his party has more than enough votes to overturn vetoes by the governor.

“We’ve got the numbers to really dictate our agenda if we’re united in our legislative efforts,” said Dempsey. “Where the governor wants to work with us we’ll provide a seat at the table for him.”

Asked whether the governor should be given more consideration, for the fact that he is elected by voters statewide, Dempsey says his word shouldn’t carry as much weight, “as [117] Republican members in the House and 25 in the Senate. No, his concerns do not outweigh the concerns of the majority party in the legislature.”

Still, Dempsey credits the Governor, saying he is being more communicative and cooperative with lawmakers than in past years, and he is interested in seeing if that is reflected in tonight’s address.

“So far [the governor’s staff’s] outreach has been better and I’m looking for, I guess, statements to the effect of recognizing that the legislature is a partner,” said Dempsey.

Watch the State of the State Address and the GOP response from House Speaker John Diehl, Junior, tonight at Missourinet.com and KMIZ/KZOU starting with a preview at 6:45 and ending with reaction from former House Speaker Tim Jones and Progress Missouri Executive Director Sean Nicholson.

Missouri House rejects elected official raises, Senate could allow them

A pay raise could still be on tap for Missouri’s legislators and state elected officials.

Representative Jay Barnes (left) and Representative Mike Colona (photo courtesy; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

Representative Jay Barnes (left) and Representative Mike Colona (photo courtesy; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

A citizens’ commission on elected official pay proposed a 17-percent increase for most statewide office holders and an 11-percent increase for the Lieutenant Governor and lawmakers. The state House voted to reject that raise 133-15.

Representative Jay Barnes (R-Jefferson City) urged the House to reject it on the grounds that elected officials shouldn’t get a raise while state employees’ pay is relatively low.

“Our state employees in this are currently ranked 50th out of 50 for state employee pay. At the very same time, state legislators in our state enjoy the 16th highest salary of state legislators anywhere in the country,” said Barnes.

The raise was voted down 133-15, but leaders in the Senate say they might allow it to go through.

Some Democrats said the raise should be allowed to go through. Representative Mike Colona (D-St. Louis) said keeping pay lower means only those who are otherwise wealthy can afford to run for and hold office.

“We’re in charge of what? A $30-billion corporation,” said Colona. “I hear from my friends on the majority side if the aisle all the time, ‘We need to treat government more like a business. It needs to run more like a business.’ … What business would you work for that didn’t give you a raise for seven years.”

Senate Majority Floor Leader Ron Richard (R-Joplin) says he might allow that raise to go through by holding that issue when it comes to a committee he chairs. He called its chances “50-50.”