Governor Jay Nixon has told the state’s higher education leaders he will propose a “substantial” increase in higher education funding in his budget plan for fiscal year 2015.

Governor Jay Nixon (D) addresses higher education leaders at a meeting on the Governor's Public Agenda for Higher Education.

Governor Jay Nixon (D) addresses higher education leaders at a meeting on the Governor’s Public Agenda for Higher Education.

Nixon could not offer an amount for that increase, saying his staff will watch how the economy develops.’

“We’re going to be watching the September, October and November numbers and then look at the projections for next year, but we want to be aggressive with that funding this year.”

Nixon also says too many gaps remain between what Missouri students are studying and what is needed in the workforce. He wants to launch a new initiative in an attempt to answer that problem in the field of mental health. He says 72 of Missouri’s 114 counties have no licensed psychiatrist and 90 have no licensed behavioral analyst.

“When tragedies across the nation continue to highlight the importance of timely, coordinated mental health treatment, here in Missouri we have a shortage of mental health care professionals.”

He says the new initiative would train Missourians in mental health professions including psychiatry, psychology, specialty nursing and applied behavioral analysis.

Nixon also said he is developing a proposal to enhance the state’s Bright Flight scholarship to encourage graduates to remain in Missouri after college.