Thursday, January 31, 2013

FEC report- Billy Long spends more on two meals than he received in contributions

"The time has come for Congress to get serious about tackling Washington’s addiction to spending."

The man who authored those words (or had an aide author them), Seventh District Congressman Billy Long spent far more than he took in during the last two months of 2013, according to his disclosure report filed Wednesday with the Federal Election Commission.

The documents indicate Long spent more on two meals, over $3,000 than the $2,000 he received in contributions during that time period.

The Long campaign paid for 11 meals in a 26-day period, according to the report, including $1,840.80 at Prime Rib in Washington. D. C. Dec. 6 and $1,186.76 Christmas Eve at Nicholas Ristorante in Springfield.

Other meals included in the FEC report included the following:

Capitol Hill Club, Washington, $71.32, Dec. 19
Jim's Steakhouse, Springfield, $45.78 Dec. 17
Jim's Steakhouse, Springfield, $96, Dec. 3
Jim's Steakhouse, Springfield, $49.14, Dec. 10
Gilardi's Ristorante, Springfield, $988.84, Dec. 20
Jim's Steakhouse, Springfield, $38.77, Dec. 13
Capitol Hill Club, Washington, $138.47, Dec. 19
Oceanaire, Washington, $333.86 Nov. 29

All of the meals plus $373.11 for a stay at the New York Palace hotel on Dec. 11 were listed as "campaign events."

Long received two contributions during November and December, $1,500 from the American Hospital Association and $500 from Michael Peters, Mercy Hospital, Springfield.

During the reporting period, Long received $2,351.83, including $351.83 in interest and spent $21,802.05.

Billy Long: We must put our nation back on the road to fiscal sanity

(In his latest newsletter, Seventh District Congressman Billy Long stresses the need for America to get its fiscal house in order.)

President Ronald Reagan said, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.  We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream.  It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”  We must make tough choices now to ensure we do not destroy our country for future generations.  The time has come for Congress to get serious about tackling Washington’s addiction to spending. 
Increasing taxes and not addressing Washington’s out of control spending problem will not avert the fiscal cliff our nation continues to find itself teetering on.  We must get serious about our nation’s fiscal situation.  That means reforming the tax code to make it fairer, flatter, and simpler, and having an honest discussion with the American people on entitlements and Washington’s reckless spending. 
As you know, on January 1, 2013, the House of Representatives voted on a Senate amendment to H.R. 8, the American Taxpayer Relief Act.  This measure permanently extended income and capital gains tax rates for individuals earning less than $400,000 and couples earning less than $450,000.  The measure also extended several tax credits and deductions, permanently patches the Alternative Minimum Tax, and sets the estate tax at 40 percent for estates valued in excess of $5 million. 
Additionally, the measure provides tax credits for select renewable energy producers, prevents reductions in physician payments under Medicare, and extends current agriculture policy for another year.  The bill delayed the sequestration spending cuts until March of 2013. 
Since the Senate amendment did not cut spending I voted against it. 
The compromise package, which a majority of House Republicans voted against, further demonstrates how badly broken our nation’s taxing and spending policy has become.  This measure will not raise sufficient revenues to decrease the deficit in any meaningful way.  The president and his Democratic allies in the Senate refused to address out-of-control federal spending.  Every family and business in America knows that they cannot spend more money than they earn.  It is time for our nation’s government to live up to the same financial rules the American people do.    
Our current tax code is a mess and both sides know we need to reform it.  We all know it is too complex, too time consuming and way too costly.  Roughly 60 percent of individual taxpayers need to hire help when completing their tax return.  In 2008, Americans spent $163 billion complying with the individual and corporate income tax rules. 
In the 113th Congress I am again a proud cosponsor of the Fair Tax.  The Fair Tax eliminates the Internal Revenue Service, the income tax, employment tax, and the death tax, and establishes a consumption-based tax. 
When it comes to cutting Washington’s reckless spending I think every government agency should get a haircut.  I support across the board spending cuts for all agencies.  I believe this approach would go a long way to help identify programs that we do not need and can eliminate, saving the taxpayers billions of dollars. 
The debate over our nation’s reckless spending is just getting started this year.  In the coming months Congress will debate legislation addressing the nation’s debt limit, the sequester spending cuts and yet another continuing resolution to fund the government.  It is my hope that we use these debates to have an honest discussion about reforming entitlements to ensure they are available for today’s seniors and there when our children and grandchildren are seniors.  I also hope we can see real Washington spending cuts and finally stop kicking the can down the road.
I will continue to fight for my belief that we need to take urgent action to stop deficit spending and put our nation back on the path to fiscal sanity.

Jury finds Joplin man guilty of murder

McCaskill questions Hagel on wasteful Pentagon spending

McCaskill not ready to say how she will vote on Hagel

Blunt to Hagel: I don't have much time so here's my two minute question

Legislators react to Nixon's State of the State address

Video: Blunt questions Hagel during confirmation hearings

Another oversized contribution for Jay Nixon

This is probably going to be easy pickings for the next few weeks, but three days after decrying Missouri's wild west system of no campaign contribution limits, Gov. Jay Nixon's campaign committee reported yet another oversized contribution.

Missouri Ethics Commission online documents indicate Nixon received $25,000 from RightChoice Managed Care Tuesday.

Rep. Kelley: Why does Nixon need brand new plane?

(In his latest report, Rep. Mike Kelley, R-Lamar,  says he expects the legislature to take a close look at the purchase of an expensive plane for the use of Gov. Jay Nixon.)

It was a very active week in your State Capitol.  On Monday Governor Jay Nixon gave his annual State of the State Address to a Joint Session of the House and Senate.  This constitutionally mandated event is used by governors to lay out their priorities for the upcoming legislative session and also to present a budget blueprint for the upcoming fiscal year.
 The most controversial topic he touched on was his support to expand Medicaid coverage in Missouri.  Medicaid covers medical care for low income families and individuals and is considered to be an entitlement program.  Several years ago when Medicaid was consuming an ever growing chunk of Missouri’s budget, the criteria for who would qualify was changed to be more restrictive.
 This is part of what is being called ObamaCare.  The plan calls for the federal government to pay for the expansion for the first three years.  After that, Missouri would have to begin paying if they want to continue the program.  While health care coverage is an ongoing concern, I am not sure if putting more people on public assistance is the answer.  Also, when we have a United States Senate that has not passed a budget in four years it brings into question how reliable the federal government would be in making the payments.  This doesn’t even take into account that our federal government borrows forty cents of every dollar it spends.
 Sometimes an issue arises that seems as though it could have been avoided.  The state has many discretionary funds that are just that, to be spent at the discretion of those who oversee them.  Those same people are also expected to use discretion in spending these taxpayer dollars.  When the news broke that the Highway Patrol had spent nearly $6 million to buy a new airplane without going through the appropriations process, it caused some real concern among the member of the legislature.
 I am not opposed to the governor using a plane to travel around the state.  I actually think it is a good idea for a governor to be visible and a plane certainly allows for faster travel.  The state owned a 1999 King Air 90 that was used for state officials to use.  I am not an airplane expert, but a King Air 90 is a nice plane by any standards.  There has been no explanation as to why we suddenly, and without justification to anyone, needed a brand new King Air 250.
 As this sessions unfolds, I expect there will be more than a few hearings to determine who authorized the purchase and why the specifications in the bid request were tailored so tightly that it basically eliminated a competitive process.  This story may be around for a while.

Nieves: Forget math and reading; let the NRA teach our first graders about guns

(In his latest report, Sen. Brian Nieves, R-Washington, sings the praises of SB 75, sponsored by Sen. Dan Brown, R-Rolla, which would require Missouri teachers and school personnel to undergo yearly training on how to deal with shooters, and would require all Missouri first graders to take the NRA's Eddy Eagle gun safety program.)

Our Second Amendment rights, a topic of much discussion this legislative session, need to be protected and the values of our U.S. and Missouri constitutions need to be upheld.

At the same time, Missourians need to be educated on firearms safety and what to do if, heaven forbid, an armed individual intends to do harm. The tragedy in Connecticut weights heavy in all our hearts, and we need to prepare our teachers and students on how they can best protect themselves, should the unthinkable 
happen in our beloved state.
This week, as chair of the General Laws Committee, I heard testimony 
regarding SB 75<>, which 
promotes firearms safety and education in our schools. 

More specifically, the bill would establish the Active Shooter and Intruder 
Response Training for Schools Program. By July 1, 2014, Missouri school districts and charter schools would need to train teachers and school employees on how to respond to students with information about a threatening situation and how to address a potentially dangerous or armed intruder or active shooter in the school or on school property. 
This type of training would be conducted each year. Initial training would be eight hours long; additional training would be four hours long. All school personnel would participate in a simulated active shooter and intruder response drill each year, conducted by law enforcement professionals. Program instructors must be certified by the Department of Public Safety's Peace Officers Standards Training Commission.
In addition, the bill would require school districts and charter schools to teach the Eddie Eagle Gunsafe Program every year to first-grade students, or use a substantially similar program. The purpose of the program is to promote the safety and protection of children and emphasize how students should respond if they encounter a firearm. 
Firearms would be prohibited in the teaching of the program.
This bill supports our right to bear arms, while emphasizing the 
critical importance of gun safety. Every Missourian should know the 
basics of firearms safety. Let's say a family chooses not to keep guns 
in their home and their child has no regular exposure to firearms. That 
child can still go to a friend's house and encounter a gun, and if he or 
she is not educated on how to be safe, disastrous consequences can 

 It's beneficial to Missouri that the bill addresses firearm safety in schools and how to react in the event of attack. It's sickening to think of an individual turning a gun towards innocent children and school staff, and my thoughts and prayers go out to those who have experienced such horrors. I pray no such atrocity occurs in Missouri; however, we need to be prepared to the best of our ability in case of attack.

GOP criticizes Nixon for hypocrisy on campaign contributions

(From the Missouri Republican Party)

During his State of the State address on Monday, Jay Nixon called for campaign contribution limits, declaring that with every large check, the "public's trust erodes a little bit more." But on the very same day, Nixon took a $10,000 check from World Wide Technology Holding Co., Inc.
“State records reviewed Thursday by The Associated Press show that Nixon received $10,000 from St. Louis-based World Wide Technology Inc. on Monday, the same day that Nixon proclaimed in a televised address that large political donations were eroding the public's trust in elected officials.
“Additional state records reviewed by the AP show that World Wide Technology has been paid nearly $42 million by Missouri over the past three years under a statewide contract to provide networking services that is up for potential renewal Feb. 28…
“[S]ome Republican lawmakers suggested the contribution creates the appearance of impropriety and highlights the hypocritical nature of Nixon's call for lawmakers to reinstate "strict campaign contribution limits.”

Pay-to-play allegations have dogged Jay Nixon throughout his career:
* While he was Attorney General, Nixon was repeatedly criticized for accepting campaign contributions from entities that he was facing in court—from the tobacco industry, to Blue Cross, to his former advisor Chuck Hatfield, and more.
* In the late 1990s, then-Attorney General Nixon came under fire for outsourcing tobacco litigation to trial lawyer donors, including Tom Strong, who raked in more than $111 million in fees after just 5 months of work.
* As governor, Nixon has repeatedly rewarded campaign contributors with plum government positions.
* Last year, Nixon came under fire for receiving massive amounts of money from law firms seeking a lucrative state contract.
Please consider the following quote from Jonathon Prouty, spokesman for the Missouri GOP: “It’s not surprising that Jay Nixon has been caught saying one thing and doing another.  Throughout his career, Nixon has accepted contributions from entities he faced in court, outsourced lucrative state work to campaign donors, rewarded donors with plum government positions, and accepted huge contributions from those seeking to do business with the state.  Every time Nixon engages in pay-to-play, the public’s trust in government erodes a little bit more.”
(I have considered that quote from Jonathan Prouty and while I also see some hypocrisy, and incredibly poor timing, in Nixon's statement and contribution, I have a hard time taking such a criticism seriously when it comes to a party that is willing to try to push through anything big contributors like Rex Sinquefield and David Humphreys want.)

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Video- Tim Jones' reply to State of the State message

Voices for National Service to honor Rohr, White, Davis

(From the City of Joplin)

In mid-February, Joplin City Manager Mark Rohr will be recognized for his leadership in the recovery work following the May 22, 2011 by Voices for National Service. Rohr was recently contacted by this organization inviting him to Washington D.C. to accept the award. Voices for National Service is a coalition of national service organizations, state service commissions and individual champions, who work to spotlight the impact of national service programs, as well as ensure Americans of all ages have the opportunity to serve their country.
In their invitation, they noted Rohr’s support of the work citizens have put forth in recovery efforts, as well as the City’s partnership with AmeriCorps who provided management and coordination of 155,000 volunteers. “In appreciation for your leadership, helping to ensure community partners and AmeriCorps members were effectively utilized in Joplin’s recovery and rebuilding effort, Voices for National Service would like to present you with our Local Leadership Award.”
Rohr will accept the award on February 11 during the 10th Annual Friends of National Service Awards Reception. “This award is not mine, but it belongs to AmeriCorps and all of the thousands of volunteers who have provided service and hard work for our community’s rebuilding. We would not be as far along on the path of recovery without the dedication of so many who freely gave their time to help us. It will be my honor to accept it on behalf of everyone who has portrayed the Miracle of the Human Spirit these past 20 months.”
AmeriCorps St. Louis established volunteer headquarters quickly in order to coordinate the continuous stream of volunteers coming to Joplin immediately following the tornado. “They were instrumental and provided safety training, and organized volunteer teams to work throughout the disaster area helping those in need,” he said. “They worked with other organizations in many areas, such as setting up donation warehouses, points of distribution, and helped identify other resources that play critical roles in recovery. They were a great support to us.”
Several staff members from the City, including Assistant City Manager Sam Anselm and Parks Director Chris Cotten, worked closely with AmeriCorps during this time. Rohr noted that Anselm and Cotten managed the City’s role in the partnership, while many other staff members were committed to this area and kept the progress moving forward.
“With the large number of volunteers coming into the city to help, our staff worked alongside AmeriCorps to help identify and contact local resources that could provide the necessary assets,” said Rohr. “This partnership worked well because staff provided the local expertise to those AmeriCorps members managing the volunteers. It is this type of teamwork that demonstrates the benefit of all levels of public and private sectors working for a common goal, which was, and still remains – helping our citizens.”
In addition to Rohr receiving an award for local leadership, Missouri State Representatives Bill White and Charlie Davis will also be recognized for their leadership at the state level.
Recipients are generally nominated by the membership of the organization. Because of the City’s strong support of national service, and continued positive coverage of the recovery, Rohr’s name was mentioned early in the process.
This award recognizes individuals for leadership and innovation in leveraging national service to meet local needs. Past honorees have included Mayors Mitch Landrieu, Michael Nutter, and Michael Bloomberg, as well as Representative David Cicilline and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.
The annual reception honors national leaders from the public, private, and nonprofit sectors who have contributed to building a culture of citizenship, service, and responsibility within America.
Voices for National Service is a diverse coalition of national service programs, state commissions and individual champions committed to expanding opportunities for Americans of all ages to serve and volunteer. Founded in 2003, the coalition is the respected voice for the service community in Washington, DC, building strong bipartisan support among our nation’s leaders for national service as a viable policy solution to tackle unmet needs, expand opportunity, and leverage social capital. Drawing on the combined experience and knowledge of the service community, Voices for National Service played a key role in the development of the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Missouri legislator's bill will prevent gun owners from answering any government questions

In his most recent report, Rep. Keith Frederick, R-Rolla, writes about a bill he plans which would prevent gun owners from having to answer any questions from any government agencies about those guns.
Frederick says the legislation was inspired by the situation in New York where a newspaper published the names of gun owners, but he decided to expand his bill to not only cover that situation but any attempts by President Obama or Congress to require gun owners to provide any information to put in national databases. At this point, the legislation does not appear to have been filed.
Frederick's report ends with excerpts from a letter he wrote to his brother about the Second Amendment.
Recently I was dismayed and quite surprised with what happened in New York, when a local newspaper decided it would be a good idea to publish the names of people who were lawfully in possession of a firearm. This was not in the best interest of the general public and served no good public policy. 
It did however, expose those individuals who did not own a firearm, and essentially publicly declared that these households are relatively defenseless to any of a number of crimes, including burglary, robbery and assault. 
 Those who were identified as owning a firearm had their names and addresses published and this did not enhance their security, but rather put them in danger.  Imagine that you were a former prosecuting attorney or a law enforcement officer who was personally responsible for arresting or prosecuting a large number of criminals who ended up being sent to prison.
  Let’s say that once released from prison, an individual wanted to pay a little visit to the person who in his or her mind was responsible for the imprisonment.  The list of firearm owners was a good place to start to track that person down. 
To try to keep that from happening in Missouri, I had a bill drafted that would address this in Missouri, and quite a number of other State Reps were quick to sign on as Co-sponsors.  As I discussed it more and thought about it more, I decided that the scope of this concept could be expanded. 
 President Obama recently issued a number of executive orders and declared that more laws need to be passed to regulate guns. He mentioned using additional data for background checks.  I have become aware that many electronic medical records these days have a section relating to gun ownership by patients.  It is listed under “Home Safety.”  Some in the health care field will be using this section to store data about the gun ownership of their patients. 
 For those of you who attended the Tea Party rally last fall, I made people aware that this was a potential issue and also told them that in my opinion, they did not have an obligation to answer those sorts of questions.  I told the gathering at that time that if they were asked such a question and refused to answer, and suffered any negative consequences from that, I wanted to know about it. 
 I reiterate that here for readers of this weekly Capitol Report. I will be introducing a bill that not only prevents publication of a list of gun owners, but it prevents physicians and other health care workers from being required to ask about, document or report to any government agency, the firearms ownership status of any patient.
  It does not prevent a physician or other health care provider from asking about or talking about firearms if he or she believes it is relevant to the individual’s or the family’s situation. 
 For instance, in my opinion, if a doctor is caring for a teenager that is troubled, perhaps depressed, the physician could take advantage of that opportunity to tell the parents that if you have a gun at home, now would be a good time to see that it is locked away. This does not require any questioning or response from the patient but accomplishes the goal of diminishing the chances of a tragedy such as happened at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut, or a lone suicide without the mass murder.
The following is perhaps a section that many of you will want to skip over, since it is more about the gun issue, but moreover it consists of excerpts from a letter I sent my brother who had corresponded with me about gun violence. He and I see things differently regarding what measures are appropriate for government to take and what represents an infringement of the right to keep and bear arms.  My big brother is a great guy, but we see this issue differently, and I described my thoughts and opinions to him in part through these excerpts from that letter I recently wrote him. 
Excerpts from a letter to my brother
 “Basically, I see this issue as a matter of the 10th Amendment, and the 2nd Amendment to the US Constitution. When our country was founded, the states gave some powers to the federal government, but retained all other powers that were not specifically given to the federal government.  “The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed,” so states the second amendment to the Constitution. 
 I do not trust the federal government to respect this constitutional reality, and I expect that it will attempt to infringe the rights of the people to keep and bear arms, even though it was specifically prohibited by the states when they authorized the creation of a federal government. 
 For the practical side of the debate, specifically about how to prevent mass killings in our schools, I have the following thoughts and observations.  First, no amount of legislation is going to prevent those with evil intentions from obtaining a gun or explosive device.  Heroin and other narcotics are illegal, but that does not prevent their use on a broad scale throughout the U.S.   During prohibition, alcohol was illegal, but its consumption was widespread.  There are millions of guns in our country and in our lifetimes we will not be able to get rid of any significant percentage of them. What makes the most sense in my opinion is to take a lesson from the air marshal program that we use to protect air travelers.  No one knows who the air marshal on the flight is but on most flights there is one, and he or she is armed and prepared to respond.  We should allow (not require) janitors, principals, and teachers who want to carry a concealed weapon to do so in our schools.  Our current Missouri conceal carry law allows that, and more school districts should avail themselves of this opportunity.  If you have an armed guard in uniform, in my opinion, he or she will be the shooter’s first target and then the rest of the school would be defenseless if it is still decreed a gun free zone.  If the shooter did not know who was carrying a weapon, it would be much more difficult to carry out the killing spree and the shooter could be stopped by anyone in the area with a weapon.  Perhaps more training than a CCW class would be needed to function in this environment, but that could be accomplished. 
 The idea of gun free zones is a bad idea.  All this does is assure a shooter that the people he wants to murder will in fact be weaponless. A gun free zone designation will not cause a shooter to decide once he sees the signs that this is a gun free zone to simply go home and ditch his plans because he is reminded that he is going to be breaking the law if he brings his gun.  If theatres and shopping centers were no longer gun free zones the people there would have a better chance of surviving and limiting an attack.
 Many people in my district have guns and they use them for hunting but also for security. Many folks live in a very rural setting where law enforcement is not able to get to the location of the crime for anything except taking down the information about the crime and the criminal is long gone.  This topic is the most common topic about which I have received email so far this session and overwhelmingly the constituents I have heard from are urging me to protect their second amendment rights.  I was recently at a forum for the candidates for the Republican nomination for the eighth congressional district that will soon be vacated by Congresswoman JoAnn Emerson.  The issue of the right to keep and bear arms was one question asked of each candidate who made a presentation that night.  Every candidate out of some 7 or 8 that responded indicated that protection of those rights was a high priority.  In my House district and in my U S Congressional district there is enormous support for preservation of the second amendment and I feel that way too. 
 If we limit the capacity of a magazine, criminals will ignore that law.  It will be the citizen defending her home from invasion that will be limited to 7 shots or 5 shots or one shot, depending on the strictness of the law imposed.  The intruder will have a much higher capacity magazine illegally obtained.”  

Feb. 14 preliminary hearing set for man who planned "Breaking Dawn" shooting in Bolivar

A Feb. 14 preliminary hearing has been scheduled in Polk County Circuit Court for Blaec Lammers, 20, who allegedly plotted a murder spree at a showing of the movie "Breaking Dawn" in Bolivar in November.

The hearing was originally scheduled for Jan. 23.

Online court records indicate a mental evaluation has been filed and that the judge rejected an attempt by the Springfield News-Leader to gain access to the evaluation.

Lammers, who faces charges of making a terroristic threat, armed criminal action, and assault in the first degree, is being held in the Polk County Jail, with bond set at $500,000. He is being represented by public defender Dewayne Franklin Perry.

5:41: Stories from the Joplin Tornado tops Amazon rankings

For the third week in a row, our 5:41: Stories from the Joplin Tornado is the highest ranking Joplin Tornado book in the Amazon rankings.

1. 5:41: Stories from the Joplin Tornado, Randy Turner and John Hacker, 83,280
2. Miracle of the Human Spirit, Mark Rohr 518,052
3. When the Sirens Were Silent, Mike Smith, 637,771
4. Joplin 5:41, Kansas City Star, 697,787
5. 32 Minutes in May, Joplin Globe, 869,370
6. 5/22: Stories of Survival, Stories of Faith, Scott Hettinger, 954,454
7. When the Storm Passes, Julie Jett, 1,614,254
8. Spirit of Hope: The Year After the Joplin Tornado, Randy Turner and John Hacker, 1,728,577
9. Joplin Tornado House of Hope 1,932,536
10. Singing Over Me, Danielle Stammer, 2,222,526
11. EF5 at 5:35, Kathryn Sandlin, 3,570,343
12. Mayday in Joplin, Donald Clugston, 3,672,846

Monday, January 28, 2013

Sinquefield lobbyist: This is why we need to eliminate income tax

School choice rally held in Kansas City

One of the problems with the education issue is poorly done news reports like this one, which is mostly slanted against traditional public schools and favoring charter schools, right down to using quotes from Rex Sinquefield's Show-Me Institute.

Video: Gov. Nixon's State of the State address

Text provided for Tim Jones' response to State of the State message

The following address was delivered by Speaker of the House Tim Jones, R-Eureka, in response to Gov. Jay Nixon's State of the State message:

Good evening.  Thank you for joining me.
I am Tim Jones, Speaker of your Missouri House, and it is an honor to speak with you tonight.
Last November, the people of Missouri sent record numbers of Republicans to Jefferson City to govern and to advance an ambitious policy agenda, an agenda focused on strengthening our state’s economy, reforming our education system, and creating opportunity for all Missourians.
Missourians also gave their support to Governor Nixon, a self-proclaimed independent, fiscal conservative who has proudly reaffirmed his intention to work with Republicans to keep tax burdens low, government small, and the bureaucratic red tape  to a minimum.
 It was a governor our state rarely saw during his first term in office, but after seeing his newfound approach to governance, I am cautiously optimistic about working with him in the years ahead.
 Moments ago, you heard the governor outline HIS priorities for the upcoming year.
 While some of the common ground with Republicans he discussed on the campaign trail is still there, many of his new proposals, ones that would create a bigger, more intrusive government bureaucracy threaten to create a chasm that no amount of bipartisanship can bridge.
And in the past, as in tonight, the Governor has articulated grand concepts but provided little detail. 
Many in the legislature, on both sides of the aisle, are concerned about the governor’s pattern of retreating behind rhetoric instead of leading and engaging with us to find solutions. 
So I challenge the governor, for the good of all Missourians, to break from his past pattern of ivory tower executive isolation, roll up his sleeves and work with us to find common ground. 
I welcome his participation.
In the months ahead, Republican leadership in the House and Senate will work with the governor on the issues the people of Missouri entrusted us to address when they elected us to office.
We have profound differences but we will focus on the places where we may find agreement. 
Areas like the critical task of improving our state’s aging and failing infrastructure. 
We must work together to make sure our roads and bridges, the essential transportation routes vital to economic development, are maintained, repaired and, when necessary, rebuilt.
We also believe it is important to review the effectiveness of our existing state programs, including Missouri’s 61 tax credit programs. 
Many of these programs accomplish a worthwhile goal, but oversight and accountability are required. 
We will eliminate the credits that do not work, cap programs at a reasonable level to provide budget certainty, and ensure that taxpayers are protected.
 And if the Governor’s leadership is absent, as it has been many times over the past four years, or when the proposals he pushes are radically different from the campaign promises he made, we will not hesitate to use our historic majorities that the people entrusted us with to pursue our agenda to reform and transform our state.
A prime example is the governor’s call to expand the welfare state by adding 300,000 Missourians to the Medicaid roles.
 It’s a call that has come courtesy of Obamacare and Washington, D.C.  It’s a call the Republican-led legislature will not answer.
Eight years ago, Republican leadership made the difficult but desperately needed decision to reign in a welfare system that was growing at an unsustainable rate.
 It was a decision that saved the state billions of dollars and staved off almost certain bankruptcy.
 Today we are faced with a similar decision.
 On one side we have a governor and a federal government that believes bigger government is the answer.
 They want to take us down a fiscally irresponsible path that will saddle future generations of Missourians with a bill they cannot afford.
 It’s a path Republicans will not follow.
Why should we pour billions of dollars of your hard-earned tax money into a broken system? That would defy basic economic sense.
 We will not follow the lead of out-of-touch bureaucrats whose reckless spending has pushed our nation to the brink of financial disaster.
Instead, Republican leadership will propose a plan to transform our Medicaid system, to repair a broken system so that it works as intended by providing quality care to the neediest Missourians. 
Republicans have always stood for providing opportunity to those who are truly in need.  And that is where your hard earned tax dollars should be spent.
Our commitment is to stay true to the will of the people who have consistently voted with large majorities against the economy-crippling provisions of Obamacare, to find ways to keep the size of government small and to steer our state away from the same kind of fiscal cliff our federal government cannot seem to avoid.
We also call on Governor Nixon to stand in support of the many Missouri hospitals that provide care to the un- and underinsured.
 The federal government’s decision to cut the dish payments that reimburse hospitals for the care they offer is one that we must oppose together.
 This ploy by the White House to force the hands of states like ours to expand Medicaid must be rejected, and we must develop a Missouri solution that will allow hospitals to continue to provide care, one that doesn’t require a massive expansion of government that Missouri taxpayers simply cannot afford.
Instead of adding more bloat to the bureaucracy, our efforts this year must focus on strengthening Missouri’s economy, a goal that requires both short-term and long-term solutions.
 In the short-term, we can improve our business climate and attract new employers and new jobs by making Missouri’s employment law standards comparable to national standards. 
 Over the past several years, Missouri’s courts have made misguided rulings that have created uncertainty in our legal environment.
 The result is that compliance is now more difficult for existing employers, and potential businesses are discouraged from setting up shop in a state where frivolous lawsuits are far too common. 
 It is time to put Missouri employers on a level playing field with their competitors around the country, to provide certainty in the legal system that allows businesses to focus on growing their businesses, creating jobs rather than worrying about unnecessary lawsuits.
 We also must work to protect one of our largest employers in Missouri - the health care industry.
 It is critical that we correct a misguided court decision that opens the door for endless lawsuits with unlimited damages, a decision that will drive doctors out of the state, destroy jobs and reduce Missourians’ access to care. 
 One of our top priorities for this legislative session will be to reform our medical malpractice system so we can close the floodgate of lawsuits that threaten to drive the cost of medical malpractice insurance through the roof and, of course, increase the cost of care. 
 Last year, Kansas enacted sweeping tax reforms that made their state extremely attractive to business and upheld their medical malpractice protections for their health care industry.
 These are the latest shots in what has been a prolonged—and very successful—effort to poach Missouri companies and Missouri jobs—the ongoing economic “border war.”  
 And if we do not respond to these very real threats, the war could turn into a rout.
 So we must immediately review our tax code and enact fiscally-responsible policies that ensure we remain competitive with our neighboring states.
We must also begin to take steps to secure our future. 
We must protect our state’s education funding and give parents, teachers, and school boards the tools they need to ensure the Missourians of today are prepared for the jobs of tomorrow
 It would be shortsighted and irresponsible for Missouri’s leaders to place the temporary benefits of entitlement funding ahead of lasting benefits of education, yet that is exactly what Governor Nixon has done over the past several years.
 With each speech he has made, the governor has promised the people of Missouri that he will put education first.
 But as his rhetoric has been replaced with reality, Missourians have seen just how empty his promises are.
 Each year it has been the legislature that has shown real leadership on the vital issue of education.
 In each of the last three years, we’ve sent the governor budgets that placed an emphasis on funding both K-12 and higher education.
 Each year, he has responded by withholding millions of dollars from our schools.
It was last year the governor asked us to take our funding for K-12 education to record levels, which we did.
 At the same time, he asked that funding once again be cut for higher education.
 The legislature, despite an incredibly difficult budget, made a commitment to not only provide record levels of funding to our elementary and secondary education system, but also to reverse the $106 million cut the governor had proposed for our colleges and universities.
 And how did the governor respond to our decision?
 By withholding more than $9 million, effectively cutting higher education funding for a third straight year.
And yet, despite his claims that these cuts had to be made to balance the budget, he was able to find nearly $6 million of your tax money to buy a brand new plane.
 Pledging your commitment to our children and then failing to support them flies in the face of good governance and leadership.
 Missouri children, our future leaders, deserve more.
 When it comes to leadership on the issue of education, Governor Nixon has been absent and actively worked against the legislature’s efforts to invest in what he claims is his top priority.
 What’s worse, this has happened at a time when Missouri’s two largest school districts are failing, as our universities are struggling to find ways to prepare our young people for the jobs of the future.
 Our children, whether they are born in Springfield, St Louis or Sedalia, Kansas City, Camdenton or Cape, Poplar Bluff, Palmyra or anywhere in between, deserve access to the highest quality education.
 But our schools will not be able to provide this level of education if their funding is consistently slashed to the bone to fund an ever-increasing, bloated entitlement system full of waste, fraud and abuse.
 Our antiquated, overly bureaucratic system is the antithesis of innovation and excellence. 
 Teachers should be rewarded for their performance and encouraged to boldly engage in the technological innovation that will create the highly-skilled workforce of tomorrow that we so desperately need.
 Finally, we must work to ensure that parents are provided the opportunity to be involved in their children’s education.
 Education cannot just begin and end at the schoolhouse door. 
 It must continue at home, and parents should take an active role in ensuring their children are learning what they need to succeed. 
 This can be accomplished by providing parents more power to intervene in failing school districts and force the necessary changes to ensure access to an effective education.
This year we also must work to improve and better fund our system of mental health.
 Families across Missouri and across our great nation continue to mourn the loss of the young people at Sandy Hook Elementary who were so tragically taken from us, our thoughts and prayers continue to be with those families who suffered through this difficult time, but the solution to prevent such tragedies from happening again in the future does not involve trampling on the Second Amendment rights of our citizens.
Instead, we must place an emphasis on creating a mental health system that makes care accessible and effective, so that those who might do us harm have the opportunity to receive the kind of help that can put them on a path to triumph rather than tragedy.
 You can count on Republicans to develop policy solutions that will protect your children—but also protect your rights as Americans.
 You sent us to Jefferson City for results, and Republicans in the General Assembly are committed to leading a government worthy of the citizens it serves. 
 Whether it is education innovation or labor reform, saving our healthcare industry or balancing our budget with fairness and equity, the truth has no agenda and the challenges before us shall require bold leadership and transformational ideas. 
 And if our governor is not up to the demands these times require, your General Assembly is prepared to provide the leadership that is so desperately needed.
While our counterparts in DC may believe that government has all the answers and that bigger government is better, here in Missouri we believe that government is not the ruler of the people, it is the people who should rule over their government.  Only then will all the people find the freedom and opportunity that will lead them to prosperity.
 In the coming months, I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Senate, and I hope to work successfully with Governor Nixon, to achieve the vision I have outlined this evening—restoring our infrastructure, strengthening our education system, and creating a job-friendly pro-growth business environment.
 Together, we can achieve these goals, and create a better future, full of opportunity for all Missourians. 
 A place where future generations work, raise their families, and are proud to call home.
 Thank you for listening this evening.
 May God bless you, and may God continue to bless the Great State of Missouri.

Text provided for Gov. Nixon's State of the State Address

Thank you, President Pro Tem Dempsey, Speaker Jones, judges of the Missouri Supreme Court, Lieutenant Governor Kinder, state officials, members of the legislature, members of my cabinet, and my fellow Missourians. 
This evening it is my pleasure to be joined by Missouri's outstanding First Lady, Georganne Nixon, and our son Jeremiah.
Before I begin to lay out our state's agenda for the year, I would like to thank the people of Missouri for the privilege of serving a second term as Governor. I am grateful for your continued trust and support, and the opportunity to lead our great state forward.
Looking around this chamber tonight, I see folks with different backgrounds, different ideologies, and different interests.

But whatever our small differences may be, we are united in a common purpose: to serve all the people of Missouri... to make their lives better... and to make life better for our children and grandchildren.
These past four years, Missouri has weathered historic challenges - from nearly double-digit unemployment to the tornado in Joplin.
But together, we met each challenge with courage and conviction, and moved our state forward.
That makes me proud to be a Missourian. 
That makes me more optimistic than ever about our future.
Because the people of the Show-Me State know how to work together. And once our minds are made up, nothing can stop us.
That's who we are. That's what we do.
Some who answer the call of service put their lives at risk to protect the lives of others.
They serve here at home whenever danger and disaster threaten. They serve in perilous outposts in every corner of the globe, to defend our freedom and liberty. 
We call them heroes. They make us proud.
Last December, I again had the opportunity to visit our troops in Afghanistan and Kuwait.
One of them is with us tonight.
Sergeant Joseph Schicker served with the Guard's Agribusiness Development Team in Afghanistan. Just hours after his team arrived at their base, Taliban insurgents attacked.
In successfully repelling the attack, several Missouri Guardsmen, including Sergeant Schicker, were wounded. For his part in the battle, Sergeant Schicker received the Combat Infantry Badge and the Army Commendation Medal with Valor.  
I personally had the honor of pinning Sergeant Schicker with the Purple Heart during the ADT's welcome home ceremony in September.
Sergeant Schicker, you represent every man and every woman who has ever fought to defend our great nation, in every era and on every field of battle.
Will you please stand, with all the members of our military past and present, and accept the heartfelt gratitude of your state?
In the last four years, we've overcome our share of challenges.
Missouri was hit by unprecedented natural disasters.
We came together to help our neighbors hit hard by twisters and ice storms, floods and drought.
In the grip of an historic recession, we did what every family in Missouri did: we tightened our belts and cut spending.
Together, we balanced the budget while holding the line on taxes.
We dramatically reduced the size of state government, while making it more efficient.
We protected our spotless Triple-A credit rating. And unlike most states, we did it without reaching into taxpayers' wallets, or putting it on the credit card.
And you know what? It worked.
And as a result, our economy is moving forward.
Last year, Missouri employers added more than 40,000 new jobs.
We're exporting more goods than ever more workers than ever before...
and bringing Missouri's auto industry back to life.
Two weeks ago - on the day after my inauguration - I went back to Detroit to meet with auto suppliers and manufacturers.
We got our first good look at the Ford Transit, one of the fantastic new vehicles we're going to build right here in the Show-Me State.
A top Ford exec said that if we hadn't come together during that special session two years ago, the Claycomo plant would have closed. That would have put those 4,000 workers out of a job, and pushed Missouri's auto industry to the brink.
Automakers are investing more than $1.5 billion in Missouri, creating thousands of jobs at the Ford plant in Claycomo, the GM plant in Wentzville, and suppliers in every corner of our state. By coming together in that special session, we saved Missouri's auto industry. 
So when the skeptics say that nothing gets done in this building, or when the press writes that the two parties can't come together, think of those workers and their families. And remember that what we do here really matters. 
And that same spirit is needed now more than ever, to keep Missouri moving forward.
Together, we've kept our fiscal discipline, and our economy is gaining ground.
We now have a unique opportunity to build a better future for our children. We must seize it. 
And nothing will have a greater impact on our children's future than the commitment we make now to their education.
So in my budget, we increase funding for education. And we increase it by $150 million.
  • That's $17 million more for early childhood education.
  • That's $34 million more for higher education;
  • And that's $100 million more for our K-12 classrooms.
Our children are our first priority. They are Missouri's future.
Of course, with increased funding, come higher expectations. We expect better test scores, better graduation rates, more college degrees and more Missourians ready to compete for the best jobs in a global economy.
We've all got to do better, and that means everybody: students and teachers; parents and principals; coaches and college presidents. Increased funding means increased accountability.
We know the early years of a child's life are critical. Over the past few weeks I've visited preschool classrooms in Greenville, Nixa, Parkway and St. Joseph - local communities committed to giving their kids a strong foundation for lifelong learning. 
And the first official business of my second term was to meet with leaders in preschool education. We discussed ways to ensure that every young child comes to school ready to learn, and ready to succeed.

The clear consensus: early childhood education is a smart investment, with a big return.
We want every child, in every Missouri community - no matter their family's circumstances - to get the best possible start.
That is why, with an increase of $17 million, we'll more than double funding for our Missouri Preschool Program, and put more money into programs like Early Head Start.
Tonight, we are fortunate to be joined by the St. Louis Pre-School Teacher of the Year, Linda Smith, of Dewey International School. Joining her is St. Louis Public Schools Superintendent, Dr. Kelvin Adams. 
Under Dr. Adams' strong leadership, the St. Louis schools have made steady progress over the past five years, as they work to earn full accreditation. That kind of progress is only possible when everyone pulls together toward a shared goal.
Mrs. Smith and Dr. Adams, please stand. Thank you for the lifelong commitment you've made to our children.
In the past four years, our schools have made steady gains.
Math scores are up. Reading scores are up.
And I'm proud to report that Missouri's high school graduation rate is now the seventh-highest in the nation.
But we must commit to even higher goals.
That's why my budget includes $100 million in new funding for our K-12 classrooms. 
We'll use it to train more teachers, modernize equipment, and lengthen the school year.
Right now, Missouri has the fourth-shortest school year in the nation. Adding six more days to the next school year will give teachers more time to work with their students, and give kids more time to learn.
But we won't stop at K-12. This year, we'll help even more Missouri families afford college. That's been a top priority of mine since Day One.
On my watch, we led the nation in holding down the cost of tuition. But the cost of college is still out of reach for too many Missouri families. And too many students who do attend college graduate with crushing debt.
That's why my budget includes more than $75 million for our Access and Bright Flight scholarships. And it increases funding for our A+ scholarships, which cover tuition and fees at all our public community colleges. 
To qualify for an A+ scholarship, high school students must keep their grades up, have excellent attendance, and stay out of trouble.
Since I've been Governor, we've expanded the A+ program to 150 more schools. But there are still schools that aren't part of the A+ program, so their students can't even apply for A+ scholarships.
That's unfair to these kids, and we're going to fix it. This is the year we will expand our A+ scholarship program to every public high school in the state, so that every qualified student in this state has the opportunity to go to community college - tuition free.
The dream of a college education should be within reach for all Missouri families. Because education is the best economic development tool there is.

While our colleges and universities are doing a great job, and graduating more students than ever before, we're also holding these schools to higher standards than ever before.
Two years ago, I convened a summit to lay out my agenda for higher education. I challenged the leaders of all our public two- and four-year institutions to develop a new funding model - based on performance. And that's what we did.
My budget includes an increase of $34 million for higher education. But instead of funding schools based merely on what they've received in the past, we'll tie new funding to specific performance goals - like increased student retention, higher graduation rates and improved learning.
We will achieve higher academic goals - with greater accountability. 
Now, we've made it our mission to help more high school students graduate, go to college, complete their degrees and enter the workforce. 
That's the traditional path. And I'm glad more students are taking it. But there are nearly 750,000 Missourians who started college but never completed their degrees.  They left school, got jobs, started families, moved on with their lives.
At this point, some of these folks may feel that going back to college is too expensive, or too hard to juggle with work and raising kids.
I want to change that and help these adult students finish the degrees they started years ago, so they can get better jobs and meet their full earning potential.
This year, we'll do more to help these adult students finish their degrees online, from an accredited university that's putting down new roots in Missouri. Let me tell you about its history.
In 1995, 19 governors came together to provide a realistic option to help adult students complete their degrees at an affordable price. They founded Western Governors University, a nonprofit institution that offers bachelors and masters degrees in four areas Missouri's employers are looking for: business, health care, teacher preparation and information technology.
It's designed to meet the needs of real people with real lives. You can take your tests after work, on weekends or at night, after the kids are asleep. Instead of paying tuition by the credit hour, students can take as much coursework as they want for a flat rate. And how quickly you earn your degree depends on how quickly you master the subject matter: you advance at your own pace.
The point is that with today's technology, we can make it easier than ever for folks to finish their degrees without disrupting their lives, and help them move up the economic ladder.
In the past three years, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, and the states of Texas and Washington have established WGU in their states. And starting this year, we will begin enrolling students at WGU-Missouri.
We'll be helping Missourians who never finished college, who are underemployed and who need degrees to move up, reach their full potential. Now that's a mission we can all get behind.
Throughout state government, we've applied business principles to make the most efficient use of taxpayer dollars. Cutting waste. Doing more with less. Making better use of technology.

And as a result, the state workforce is now the smallest it has been in 19 years. From the time I became Governor to the end of Fiscal Year 2014, we will have reduced the size of state government by 4,500 positions, and cut $1.8 billion in state spending.
We've sharply cut energy use, sold off surplus property and reduced leased space.
We've put more state services online - from license plates to child support.
And in addition to applying business principles to make state government more efficient, we must use those same principles to make government more business friendly.
Now, Missouri's already rated one of the Top-Ten best states to do business, because of things like our low tax rates, low workers comp rates, low energy costs and strong workforce. But talk to small business owners and they'll tell you: there's still too much red tape. Too many bureaucratic hurdles. We hear those concerns, and we're doing something about it.
First, we need to streamline Missouri's economic incentive programs - and there are a lot of them - so that they're easier to use and understand.
Second, we need to simplify our convoluted environmental permitting process. Currently, business owners have to go to as many as six commissions at the Department of Natural Resources to get permits. And that's before they turn the first shovel of dirt. We need to consolidate those commissions into one, to help businesses grow and create jobs. 
And while we're at it, I propose that we eliminate another ten commissions at DNR that are redundant and unnecessary. We can take common-sense steps to cut red tape for businesses - without backing off our commitment to protecting our air, land and water.
We also must address the Second Injury Fund.
This year, let's work together and solve this issue for the benefit of Missouri workers and employers.
In a highly competitive global economy, employers need access to a highly skilled, well-trained workforce. That's why I've made it a top priority to give Missouri workers the skills they need to compete for the jobs of tomorrow.
Since I've been in office, we've dramatically increased our investment in worker training, helping 150,000 Missouri workers sharpen their skills and get better jobs in their field. So once again, my budget increases funding for workforce training that's custom-tailored to the needs of Missouri employers.
Investing in Missouri workers' skills - that's real economic development. But job training doesn't just happen in the classroom or on the work site. Some of Missouri's best workers got their training serving us in the armed forces.
Helping our veterans get work when they come home is not only honorable and patriotic, it's good for Missouri businesses. If you're looking for an employee who shows up early, stays late, works hard all day and knows how to overcome adversity - hire a veteran.
In 2010, we launched Show-Me Heroes. We've asked every employer in the state to reach out, recruit and interview veterans first for new job openings. 
I'd like to thank all the legislators in this room who helped us strengthen this program by adding job training, so our veterans can re-enter the civilian workforce quickly and be even more successful on the job.
More than 2,700 employers have signed the Show-Me Heroes pledge, putting more than 4,000 of our proud Missouri veterans to work.
And tonight, again, I call on every Missouri business to go to our website - - and take the Show-Me Heroes pledge.
Because it's not enough to honor and support our service members abroad. We must honor and support them at home, with jobs that are worthy of their skills and work ethic.
For the third straight year, I am proud to report that we are shipping more Missouri goods around the world than ever before.
Missouri exports hit record levels in 2010, and topped the $14 billion mark with double-digit growth in 2011. And we're on track to break records again. That's because we're taking a pro-active approach.
In October of 2011, I led a group of Missouri business leaders on a highly successful trade mission to China. We secured agreements to sell $4.6 billion in Missouri goods.
In April of 2012, we went to Brazil, and signed our first-ever trade agreement with the state of Sao Paulo, the financial capital of one of the world's fastest-growing economies. And this coming March, I will lead a trade mission to South Korea and Taiwan.
We're making this a priority because it's critical for every business in the state - no matter how small - to think globally. Because companies that once only did business with customers around the corner are finding new customers around the world. And when we sell more Missouri products overseas, we're creating more jobs here at home.
That's why my budget includes $2.3 million to enter new markets, expand foreign trade, and help Missouri businesses develop a world-wide customer base.
One of our export superstars comes from one of Missouri's oldest family-owned businesses, Volpi Foods in St. Louis. Next time you are in St. Louis, stop by their shop on The Hill.
Volpi is a prime example of a traditional business that with visionary new leadership has broken the mold. With the help of our departments of Agriculture and Economic Development, Volpi has doubled its exports in growing markets like Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Costa Rica.
Please welcome the CEO of Volpi Foods, Lorenza Pasetti.
There's no doubt that Missouri is ready to meet the challenges of a global economy.
But quite frankly, the biggest economic decision facing our state right now is how to move forward on health care.
This isn't the time to re-open the debate or reargue the merits of the President's health care plan. I had some problems with it, and I know many of you did as well.  But Congress passed it - the President signed it - and the Supreme Court upheld it.
It's the law of the land. And it's not within our power to rewrite federal laws, even if we wanted to.
It is within our power - it's our responsibility - to now do what's right for Missouri.
And the question before us is a narrow one. Will we bring the tax-dollars that Missourians send to Washington back home to strengthen our Medicaid system here in Missouri?
Or will we let the tax dollars that Missourians send to Washington be spent in other states instead? Other states would get the benefits, and we'd get the bill.
The answer is clear: the people of Missouri deserve to see their tax-dollars come back to their communities.
Friends, let's put the politics of health care aside for just a moment and look at this as a business decision for the state of Missouri.
The Missouri Chamber of Commerce supports the Medicaid expansion - not because they're big supporters of this President and his agenda - but because it's the smart thing to do. They know that bringing billions of dollars back to Missouri is good for our state's economy.
The Kansas City Chamber of Commerce has endorsed the Medicaid expansion. So have the chambers in Independence, Springfield, Lee's Summit and St. Louis. So have the Civic Council of Greater Kansas City, Kirksville REDI, and our friends at the Associated Industries of Missouri.
Would the leaders from these business organizations who have joined us tonight because of the importance of this issue please stand? Thank you for your leadership on this critical issue.
For these business leaders, this is not a political decision. It's an economic one. And we shouldn't let last year's politics get in the way of next year's economic growth.
Moving forward with this plan will bring a total of $5.7 billion to Missouri for the first three calendar years - at no additional cost to the state. 
The University of Missouri estimates this will generate an additional 24,000 jobs - and that's just in 2014. We're talking about good jobs - for nurses, doctors, pharmacists, therapists and medical technicians. 
Strengthening Medicaid will strengthen our economy. Without question, it's the smart thing to do.
Now I know there are some who have voiced concern that Washington will not live up to its commitment. Let me address that directly: I support including a provision that rolls back the Medicaid expansion if Washington doesn't honor its financial commitment.
If Washington drops the ball, we'll do what's right for Missouri. We'll always do what's right for Missouri.
And there's a human element to this that can't be ignored.
A stronger Medicaid system will make health care available to 300,000 of our friends and neighbors.
Let's be clear about who these people are. They're working Missourians - folks who work day and night, but simply can't afford health coverage.
These are not people who aren't trying, or hoping to game the system. They're folks we see every day - some holding down two jobs just to make ends meet.
We're talking about a family of four, with a household income of roughly $32,000 a year. They wait tables and clean office buildings. They cut hair and trim trees. They work in factories, and repair cars and trucks.
Making it easier for these hardworking Missourians to get basic health insurance is the right thing to do. And because these folks can't afford doctors' bills or insurance, they often end up in our hospital emergency rooms, because it's the only option for their family. In their shoes, you'd probably do the same thing.
It's a terrible way to deliver health care. It drives up premiums for people who do have health insurance. That must change. 
I'm well aware this is a tough issue politically. But across the country, we're seeing Governors and state legislators put politics aside to do what's undeniably best for their states.
Republican Governors in places like Arizona, North Dakota, New Mexico and Nevada are using federal funds to strengthen their Medicaid systems. Not because it's the easy thing for them to do politically, but because it's the right thing to do.
Here in Missouri, we must make the smart business decision. The right human decision. And bring the tax dollars we send to Washington back to work here in Missouri.
On another health care front, in recent years we have seen the tragic consequences when people with serious mental illness don't get the help they need.
Right now, many people with severe mental illness only get treatment when they reach a crisis point. That's too late.
My budget includes $10 million to help those with mental illness get timely, effective treatment in their own communities. That money will be used to:
  • Provide more services in our community mental health centers;
  • Increase mental health first-aid training for professionals so they can recognize the early warning signs of mental illness.
  • Train law enforcement in mental health crisis-intervention;
  • And teach families how to care for loved ones who suffer from severe mental illness.
We must do everything in our power to get folks the treatment they need, before it's too late.
Each day in our state and across the country, tragedies occur that don't make headlines, and often don't get reported at all. I am talking about domestic violence.
Last year, our network of shelters for victims of domestic violence provided safe haven for thousands of women and children. But thousands of others were turned away because the shelters were full.
We know that battered women are at greatest risk when they make the courageous decision to leave an abusive partner. Finding shelter can literally make the difference between life and death for these women and for their children.
That is why my budget includes a 29 percent increase in funds to provide more beds, more treatment, more safety at domestic violence shelters throughout our state. No child - no mother - who has been the victim of domestic violence should ever be turned away and left to fend for themselves during these moments of crisis.
These past four years, we have opened new doors for thousands of Missourians with disabilities. 
I'm passionate about this work, as I know many of you in this room are as well. Together, we passed landmark legislation in 2010 to ensure that children with autism get the medical care they need.
Issues like this transcend politics. And now thousands of youngsters are getting the therapy that, just a couple years ago, their families couldn't afford. We will keep moving forward by funding training for more therapists to help even more children with autism lead happier, healthier lives.
In October of 2010, we started the Partnership for Hope. And it's already helped thousands of people with developmental disabilities live fuller lives. My budget includes funds to expand this vital program to 1,000 more Missourians, some of whom have spent years waiting for services.
By the end of 2014, we'll be serving more than 3,500 people with developmental disabilities.
Missourians like Vishal Patel. Vishal is 23. He has a rare form of cerebral palsy, and gets around in a motorized wheelchair.
For years Vishal had to crawl, or have his parents carry him upstairs in their home, to take a shower. The Partnership for Hope provided Vishal with a stair lift, a roll-in shower, a permanent ramp and the physical therapy he needs. 
But as he told me in a letter, his real dream was to get a real job - with a real paycheck.
The Partnership arranged for him to volunteer every Friday at a movie theater in St. Peters. And Vishal did so well, that just before Christmas they offered him that real job, with a real paycheck. His first day was January 4th
Vishal represents the many Missourians with disabilities who are now entering the workforce, thanks to the Partnership for Hope and the enlightened business owners who recognize the value of these outstanding workers.
Vishal is here tonight with his job coach, Pam Westhoff, and Peg Capo, who runs the program in St. Charles County. Please welcome the newest member of Missouri's workforce, Vishal Patel.
At the start of my speech, I spoke about unique opportunities, and the importance of seizing them.
With our perfect Triple-A credit rating intact and interest rates at all-time lows, we now have a unique opportunity to move forward with a bond issuance.
It would allow us to modernize our K-12 classrooms and college research labs, mental hospitals and state parks. Some of our state's most important buildings need long-overdue improvements, including this one.
Interest rates today are about  half of what they were in 1995 when Governor Carnahan issued bonds, and about a third of what they were when Governor Bond did the same in 1983, when interest rates were more than 8 percent.
But the bond issue must be focused on our state's most pressing needs. And we must have a way to pay for it.
When we talk about our state's long-term needs, nothing is more important than our schools.
A bond issuance will allow the state to establish a permanent, low-interest loan fund dedicated to improving our local schools. 
Which is why I am proposing the creation of the BOOST Fund. BOOST stands for Building Opportunities in Our Schools Today.
Because, folks, let's not kid ourselves. If we want our children to get a first-rate education and compete in a 21st Century global economy, they'll need first-rate, 21st Century facilities: state-of- the art computers and science labs, libraries and wired classrooms.  The BOOST Fund will go to work in your communities, in schools in every corner of Missouri.
In addition, a targeted bond issuance will provide funds for cutting-edge university research facilities in areas critical to our competitiveness, such as engineering, math, and science.
Bond proceeds will also allow us to build a new and improved Fulton State Mental Hospital. We have a moral responsibility to these patients and their caregivers to provide the best possible environment: one that is safe, secure and conducive to healing.
Bonds will also pay to upgrade accommodations in our state parks. It's an investment that will have a big impact on tourism.
And tourism is big business in Missouri. Last year, Missouri welcomed 36 million visitors, pumping nearly $11 billion into our state's economy. But we can do even better.
Updating our cabins and lodges, and building brand-new, top-of-the-line facilities at our most popular parks will create jobs, help our economy, and make our parks an even bigger draw. Our 87 state parks and historic sites are a priceless legacy that belongs to all of us. Hunting, fishing, hiking and camping are part of our Missouri way of life.
Investing in Missouri's state parks today will help preserve our outdoor heritage for our grandchildren, and their grandchildren.
As I said before, we can only move forward with a bond issuance if we have a way to pay for it.
Saying "we'll figure it out later" won't work. That's not how we became a Triple-A state.
The way to pay for the bond issuance is to finally get our tax credit system under control.
We've worked on reining in tax credits for years. In 2010, I appointed a statewide, bipartisan, tax credit commission to study the issue.
That commission tapped the expertise of Missouri leaders in business, education, labor and government. They recommended a series of pragmatic, fiscally responsible reforms to rein in tax credit expenditures and ensure these programs provide a strong return on taxpayers' investment.
But two years later, these reforms have yet to pass, and the costs of inaction continue to grow.
Last year tax credit redemptions grew to a staggering $629 million - one-twelfth of our entire general revenue budget. That's not fiscally responsible.
This is the year to get comprehensive, fiscally responsible tax credit reform legislation to my desk, and get smart, strategic investments in our state moving forward.
But all of the ideas and proposals I outlined tonight mean very little if the people of Missouri lose faith in the system.
Missouri's ethics laws are among the weakest in the nation. Every year as Governor, I've put forward my agenda for ethics reform, and I know many of you have made genuine efforts to pass legislation.
The list of reforms we must implement is long. Everything from curbing committee-to-committee transfers to banning office holders from doubling as paid political consultants to finally closing the revolving door between the legislature and lobbyists. All things we must do.
But above all, the single most destructive force to our system is the unlimited sums of money pouring into the campaign accounts of candidates seeking public office.
We must institute - we must re-institute - strict campaign contribution limits.
Each time a wealthy individual or business or special interest sends a check for $20,000 or $50,000 or $100,000 to a candidate, the public's trust erodes a little bit more. And eventually, if we continue on this path, there will be no trust left at all.
I've led the fight for campaign contribution limits for many years. As Attorney General, I stood before the U.S. Supreme Court and successfully argued in support of Missouri's contribution limits. And as Governor, I stood before you every year and made the case for them.
This year, if the Legislature does not send a campaign contribution limit bill to my desk, I will do everything in my power to get it on the ballot and make sure it passes.
The people of Missouri have voiced their opinion on this matter already at the ballot box and their support for contribution limits was overwhelming. We all know it would pass once again.
Let's work together and get it done this session. The era of unlimited contributions to candidates must end.
These past four years, we've been faced with some historic challenges.
And by working together, we've tackled them head-on ...and made great strides in the Show-Me State.
We've kept our fiscal discipline, balanced the budget and put strict cost controls in place throughout state government. And as a result, our economy is making solid, steady progress.
The signs are everywhere. Businesses large and small are hiring again.
Missouri's unemployment rate has been lower than the national average for 40 consecutive months.
New building permits are up. Personal income is up, and wages are up.
And now we are in a position to make smart, long-term investments that will boost our children's academic achievement, protect Missourians' health, strengthen our workforce, improve our quality of life and create prosperity for generations to come.
We have unique opportunities before us. Now is the time to seize them.
Just two weeks ago, I stood at the steps of this Capitol, and spoke of my vision for the future of our beloved state:
A future where all our children get an education that prepares them to compete for the best jobs in the global economy;
Where the brightest minds in science and technology advance the frontiers of human knowledge;
Where business and the arts flourish;
Where the bounty of Missouri's farms and fields will feed, clothe and power the planet;
And where the natural beauty of our state is preserved and cherished for all time.
That future is ours to build. And we can only do it by working together.
When I first came to the Capitol in 1987, I was the youngest person in the Senate. I had a lot to learn. And I was fortunate to serve with many dedicated and capable legislators on both sides of the aisle. They showed me what public service is and what it requires of each of us.
Republicans and Democrats didn't agree on everything back then, just like they don't now.
We had a divided state government, with a Governor of one party, and the other party holding a large majority in the legislature - just like we do now. 
But we worked together to get things done for the good of the people.
I've been in public service for a long time. More than a quarter of a century.
And in those many years, my faith in the people of Missouri has never faltered. My faith in our bedrock values has never wavered.
And I have always been mindful of, and inspired by, the words inscribed on the Great Seal of Missouri, on our flag and in these marble halls:
"Let the Good of the People Be the Supreme Law.''
This is our call to action, our common oath and rallying cry. This is our sworn duty.
Ours is a sacred calling. Our time is short.
Let every action we take in these halls and in the offices of government be guided by that supreme law: the good of the people.
Now let us seek God's everlasting grace and protection to finish the good works He has entrusted to our care.
God bless Missouri.
And God bless the United States of America.
Thank you.