During his first State of the State address, Governor Greitens (R) said he wants to increase state worker pay by having fewer state employees. Missouri’s state workers receive an average base salary of $38,000 per year – making them the lowest paid in the nation.
Greitens’ proposed budget that begins in July does not include a pay raise for state workers but it keeps health care costs to employees flat. It would also eliminate 188 jobs through unfilled vacancies and attrition.
Some of the state’s elected leaders have said about $500 million in cuts are expected in the next state budget.
Greitens’ address also urged state lawmakers to change the way Missouri’s welfare system operates. He says the system should lift people out of poverty. No bills have been filed that directly relates to how it functions. However, a proposal by state Rep. Scott Fitzpatrick (R-Shell Knob) would reduce the number of weeks a person can be on unemployment benefits from the current 20 weeks to as few as 13 weeks, depending on the state’s unemployment rate. The measure has passed in the House and is being considered by a Senate committee.
Greitens also wants to create savings accounts for students with special needs through individualized education plans. A proposal by state Rep. Shamed Dogan (R-Ballwin) that would establish an education savings account program has not received a committee hearing.
At a press conference Tuesday, Greitens told reporters says he’s proud legislation has been signed into law that bars mandatory union fees and changes the way expert testimony is allowed into court cases.
Greitens said the legislature has a long way to go. The General Assembly is halfway through this year’s session.
“We’ve got a lot more work to do. A lot more work to do around key labor reforms, key tort reforms, key education reforms and also ethics reforms,” said Greitens. “All of which are essential, all of which we campaigned on and we laid out in the State of the State address. That was our agenda and it’s been incredibly clear to everybody from day one. We’re going to continue to fight for that agenda every single day.”
The House has passed limits on lobbyist gifts to lawmakers. A Senate committee held a public hearing on the measure in January, but the committee has not voted on the proposal.
The House has also sent to the Senate a proposed statewide expansion of charter schools.
Another one of Greitens’ agenda items that has been addressed is examining Missouri’s tax structure. Greitens has ordered a committee to evaluate Missouri’s tax system because he says “insiders are gaming this system.” Since 2010, he says nearly $2 billion has been promised to special interests.
The committee, which is made up on state legislators and members of the governor’s staff, must make its recommendations to Greitens by June 30th.