Jay Nixon began by highlighting Missouri’s response to the disasters in the state last year. He keyed on the inspirational words of one Joplin tornado survivor, “always take that extra step.”
Nixon touted that the state has not raised taxes and has reduced the size of government. With his proposed budget, he says, he reduces the state’s payroll by 4,100 positions. A total of 816 reductions are included in the new proposal. He notes the state’s workforce is the smallest its been in 15 years.
The address did not include the specifics of his proposed $106 million cut from the state’s 4-year and community colleges, but he did allude to it.
“To balance our budget in a way that protects our scholarships and academic programs I’m calling on our colleges and universities to continue to look for more ways to cut overhead and administrative costs and run smarter, more efficient operations.”
He said colleges and universities will have to change their business models. An example he offered is the “Innovation Campus” program at the University of Central Missouri.
“Students will enroll in college courses while still in high school and then participate in high-impact apprenticeships throughout the college curriculum.” he says. “Corporate partners will underwrite tuition scholarships and faculty and employees will partner to guide each student.”
Nixon encouraged the state’s institutions to develop similar programs.
The Governor stressed budget priorities, including education.
“For the past three years, even in challenging budget times, we’ve maintained level funding for our K-12 classrooms,” Nixon says. “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.”
Some of Nixon’s calls to the legislature were familiar. In his only chide of the night he said, “For the past three years I’ve called for comprehensive tax credit reform. Some of you in this room stood with me on that issue, others did not.”
Nixon says over the past four years more than $2 billion in state tax credits have been redeemed. He re-iterated the call to pass legislation to retool and reform tax credits. He also urges legislators to create bills on charter school accountability and to increase the number of professionals working with autistic children.
Another priority that carries over is that of campaign finance limits. Nixon told the joint session, “When one person with an axe to grind can make an unlimited contritbution to advance a narrow agenda, when lobbyists for powerful interests can tip the balance in an election, the very foundations of our democracy are at risk.
AUDIO: Listen to Governor Jay Nixon’s 2012 State of the State Address (54 mins.)
AUDIO: Mike Lear reports (1 min.)