Governor Blunt isn’t ready to outline his legislative agenda for next year. That will come late in January during his State of the State address. He has, though, given the Missourinet a sneak preview. Blunt has three priorities. Blunt says state government made difficult budget decisions in 2005 when revenue didn’t match expenditures. This year, he says the state has an opportunity to cut taxes. Blunt says he hasn’t settled on any particular tax cut. He wants to decide what has the greatest impact on job creation and is the greatest aid to working families. House Speaker Rod Jetton has proposed doing away with the current state tax on Social Security benefits. Blunt says he has discussed the idea with the Speaker. Jetton has projected a budget surplus of between $300-and-500 million. Blunt won’t talk numbers, preferring simply to say that the budget picture has turned and there will be a surplus. While tax relief is Blunt’s number one priority, health care ranks second. Blunt wants to reshape Medicaid with an emphasis on prevention. Education rounds out the agenda. Blunt pledges a brighter budget picture will be used to benefit schools, from Kindergarten to college. Blunt says a spending priority will be education as it has been the last two budget years. Blunt says he will emphasize fiscal restraint, even with one of the best budget projections in years, to keep the state from sliding back into budget problems. Blunt will outline his legislative proposals during his State of the State address to a joint session of the legislature January 24th at 7pm.
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