Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt, who played the grinch during the first three years of his term, is opening the purse strings now that he faces re-election:
Blunt's office has been grinding out daily news releases, ticking off increases that he will seek. The mood in the Capitol's hallways reflects the shift from three years ago, when Blunt was cutting health care for the poor and other programs.
"Isn't it great?" cheered Kyna Iman, who lobbies for Missouri Citizens for the Arts. "Christmas is here," said Iman, noting that Blunt has called for nearly doubling funding for the Missouri Arts Council.
Blunt's spokeswoman, Jessica Robinson, said Monday the governor will outline his agenda for "another massive funding increase for education, new health care access for the uninsured, additional tax relief and new tools to fight illegal immigration."
His education proposal would pump an additional $121 million into basic aid for grades K-12, as planned under the state's foundation formula. His tax proposal would eliminate taxes on military veterans' pensions.
But Blunt's health care plans were drawing fire Monday. The House Special Committee on Health Care Transformation began dissecting the plan to extend coverage to low-wage working parents this spring. Rep. Rob Schaaf, R-St. Joseph, said the plan will cost four times what the Legislature intended when it called for a pilot project.
Blunt's proposals will be outlined during his State of the State message tonight.