Gov. Jay Nixon says the Missouri Legislature made significant progress in some key areas, such as expanding access to mental health services, funding higher education on a performance outcomes-based model, and creating business incentives to bolster the economy.
He says the legislature worked in the final week of session to fund First Steps, so children with special needs can access early intervention, and Missouri Works to provide job resources. Nixon also praised the legislature for its work to fix the state’s broke Second Injury Fund, calling such successes “solid steps forward.” Nixon was also pleased with lawmakers’ work to streamline the functions of the Department of Natural Resources, an initiative he laid out in his State of the State address in January.
“I appreciate the bipartisanship,” he says. However, he added that the legislature “fell flat” on several other important issues, such as reforming tax credits that “continue to consume a large part of the state budget.”
“Working Missourians will needlessly go without healthcare” because of the legislature’s failure to expand Medicaid, he says. “All of this unfinished business is particularly stark in the light of unnecessary things the legislature did find time to address, like Sharia Law and something called Agenda 21.”
Sharia is the moral code and religious law of Islam, a deciding factor on the gamut of public policy in Islamic countries: crime, politics, economic factors, as well as day-to-day living. Agenda 21 is a United Nations’ sustainability plan that was passed by the U.N. in 1992.
Nixon didn’t say outright that he would veto the Republican-led measure to cut income taxes and increase sales and use taxes, but did say he has concerns, and says Missourians aren’t interesting in “risky experiments.”
“I have pushed fiscal responsibility,” he says, pointing the the state’s declining unemployment rate, increase in jobs, and Missouri’s perfect triple A credit rating.
“HB 253, the tax bill that got to my desk last week … an initial assessment has raised some red flags,” Nixon says. “This bill would cost more than 800 million dollars a year.”
And Nixon stands by his earlier statement that he would move to cut jobs within the Department of Revenue if the legislature cut the department’s funding, a penalty dealt out after it was discovered Revenue staff was copying and storing conceal carry applicant information.
“We’re not going to switch to a Washington style budget that operates on two thirds of the year,” Nixon says. “We’ll make the necessary trims based on the budget that was passed.”
He says the federal funds for Medicaid expansion is still on the table until January 2014, and that he’ll continue to move forward to work with residents, the medical industry and lawmakers.
“I think we will see consequences of not moving forward,” he says, “such as impacts on rural hospitals and cost shift to patients.”
Nixon downplayed gun rights measures, which monopolized much of this year’s session.
“It didn’t distract me, we do what we do here,” he says. (See video below.) “Unemployment’s down, we’re adding jobs, we’re focused on providing additional tools for education … you’d have to speak to the folks on the third floor.”
The “folks on the third floor” are members of the Missouri House of Representatives and of the Missouri Senate.
AUDIO: Governor Nixon outlines this year’s successes, failures in the legislative session (4:50)