"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.
Thursday, January 31, 2013
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.
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.
Missouri Ethics Commission online documents indicate Nixon received $25,000 from RightChoice Managed Care Tuesday.
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.
(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<http://www.senate.mo.gov/13info/bills/sb075.htm>, 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 occur.
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.
(From the Missouri Republican Party)
Pay-to-play allegations have dogged Jay Nixon throughout his career:
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
(From the City of Joplin)
Tuesday, January 29, 2013
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.”
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.
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
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.
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.