Senate Appropriations Chairman Kurt Schaefer (Columbia) and House Majority Floor Leader Tim Jones (Eureka) delivered the Republican response to State of the State address. The transcript of their remarks is below.
SEN. KURT SCHAEFER:
Good evening, and thank you for joining us. I’m Senator Kurt Schaefer, and I am joined by my colleague, House Majority Floor Leader Tim Jones, to deliver the Republican Response to the State of the State. Representative Jones will begin with a few words about what you heard from the Governor this evening.
REP. TIM JONES:
Thank you, Sen. Schaefer.
Every January for the past three years, Governor Nixon has come to the Missouri Capitol and delivered a compelling speech—full of lofty rhetoric, brimming with hope.
Tonight was no different.
We in the General Assembly would hope that Jay Nixon would follow through on his promises. But if the past is any indication, his leadership will stop once the cameras are turned off and the reality of life continues.
We have witnessed this every year.
Governor Nixon talks about creating jobs—but Missouri has fallen behind on his watch.
He talks about standing up for Missourians—but he silently supports his party when they ram Obamacare and destructive cap-and-trade proposals through Congress. And he remains silent when his State Tax Commission once again decides to raise taxes on Missouri’s farmers to the tune of millions of dollars a year.
He talks about working with the legislature—but he remains on the sidelines, as a spectator, every time we need him to lead.
At a time when our economy is stagnating and the unemployment rate remains unacceptably high, Missourians deserve far better.
Tonight, 250,000 Missourians cannot find a job, many more are underemployed, and countless others struggle to make ends meet.
Employers are fleeing Missouri to states like Kansas and Tennessee—taking jobs and precious revenue with them.
This should strengthen our resolve to keep jobs here. But when one company moved to Kansas just last year, Jay Nixon’s Economic Development Director shrugged his shoulders.
A true leader fights for every job, every time. Instead, we have a governor who gambles state money on risky projects without vetting them first.
In 2010, the governor called a press conference to announce more than 17 million dollars of your taxpayer money for a now infamous company called Mamtek in Moberly.
If the governor had done his homework, he would have learned that the company misrepresented their capabilities, the company’s president was in deep financial trouble, and he would have realized that the project at its essence, was a fraud.
If he had done his homework. But he did not.
The company went bankrupt, and the city of Moberly was left with tens of millions of dollars of debt—and zero new jobs.
Instead of taking responsibility, Jay Nixon pointed fingers and even claimed he doesn’t run his own Department. A Missourian who became President once famously said that the buck always stopped with him. Apparently with Jay Nixon, the buck stops with everyone but the governor.
In 2009, Governor Nixon provided a 1 million loan to a Kirksville company, even though that company was run by a man with a history of tax problems. He again didn’t do his homework. The company defaulted—and taxpayers still haven’t been repaid.
And in 2010, Nixon promised $2 million to a Cape Girardeau company run by a man on probation for financial fraud. The governor didn’t do his homework.
Missourians deserve better.
You see, Governor Nixon, it’s not enough to fly around the state on the taxpayer dime and promise jobs— you need to make sure those jobs are actually created.
Just like it’s not enough to make one lofty speech every year—you need to have an agenda, follow through on that agenda and seriously address the issues that are facing our state.
If you are willing to lead, the peoples’ elected representatives are eager to work with you to create the environment necessary for businesses to create jobs, to balance the budget without new job-killing taxes, to improve our schools, and to protect Missouri values.
In December, Republicans in the State House released our “Blueprint for Missouri” to accomplish just that. We are committed to creating a stable business climate that allows employers to grow, expand, and create good-paying jobs.
We are determined to reset the priorities of government so it serves the taxpayers first. We plan to improve the education of our children—especially those in failing schools. And we will continue protecting the sanctity of life and our 2nd Amendment rights.
Missourians are a proud, determined, independent people. We want to work, we want to provide for our families and we want to restore our state to greatness.
Accomplishing greatness requires boldness, vision and courage in our leaders. We invite Governor Nixon to join us, in our vision and in our determination to reach our goals of making Missouri the jewel of the Heartland.
Now, Senate Appropriations Chairman Kurt Schaefer will discuss Missouri’s budget situation.
SEN. KURT SCHAEFER:
Thank you, Representative Jones.
Over the next several months the General Assembly will review the Governor’s proposed budget and make decisions regarding scarce taxpayer resources during one of the most challenging fiscal years in Missouri history.
As we do this, we will remember that governing is about priorities, especially during these difficult economic times.
Article III, Sec. 36 of the Missouri Constitution specifically states the order of priorities for appropriating the people’s money. After payment of public debt, the education of Missouri’s children is at the top of the list. This clear mandate has been ignored in recent times and the budget has been balanced on the back of public education.
Missouri schools have received less and less money—for classrooms, for transportation, for technology, and for creating future opportunity.
The truth is in the numbers.
Over the past three years, state funding for school districts and teachers has been slashed and underfunded by 7% or $232 million dollars, and funding for Missouri’s public higher education institutions and scholarships has been reduced by more than 14%, which totals about $153 million dollars. Yet during the same period, Medicaid spending has skyrocketed—increasing by over $1.6 billion dollars, a 24% increase of an already massive program.
The Governor has furthered this trend through withholds and reductions of the General Assembly’s increases for public education. When we can’t afford busses to get our children to school and when we continue to cause dramatic increases in the price of earning a college or technical degree, it’s time to reevaluate our priorities.
The General Assembly is committed to protecting Missouri’s most vulnerable citizens. We must provide assistance to those who cannot otherwise help themselves. But the growing diversion of funding away from programs that assist all our citizens in order to fund an expanding welfare state is simply unsustainable.
When we fail to prepare our children to compete, we condemn them to a future that is less bright and devoid of opportunity. Cutting public education to fund expansion of Medicaid does little more than guarantee future Medicaid growth.
Additionally, helping Missourians recover from natural disasters will always be a top priority for the General Assembly. The $500 million Rainy Day Fund was created so such adversity would not keep us from crafting a strong future for all Missourians.
The Governor’s speech tonight should be the beginning—not the end—of his involvement in solving our budget crisis.
In the past the Governor has been unwilling to work with the General Assembly on the budget, so tonight I renew my invitation to him to put aside differences and design a budget that respects Missouri’s priorities.
But whether or not the governor chooses to work with us, the General Assembly will continue to live within our means and deliver a balanced budget.
The poor economy has accelerated our arrival at a cross-road: do we sacrifice the potential of our young people to put an ever increasing amount of the public’s money into maintaining the status quo, or do we invest in our children and our future?
For us, the answer is clear. Working to strengthen public education is our top priority.
If we engage the right stewardship today, I am optimistic we can build a Missouri full of ever increasing opportunity.
Thank you for listening this evening.
May God bless you, and may God continue to bless the Great State of Missouri.