By CHRIS BLANK
(JEFFERSON CITY, Mo., AP) — Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon delivered his sixth State of the State address Tuesday and presented his recommended budget for the fiscal year starting July 1. The speech and spending recommendations are a starting point for the Republican-led Legislature, but it is uncertain how successful the Democratic governor will be at winning approval for his proposals.
Here are five things to know about the Missouri State of the State speech:
1. DOLLARS AND CENTS
Lawmakers and the governor disagree about how much Missouri will have in the treasury to spend for the 2015 fiscal year. Legislative budget leaders agreed to a state revenue estimate used as a foundation for developing the budget, but the governor did not sign off on it. Lawmakers have said their estimate is $8.59 billion; Nixon’s office is using an estimate of $8.74 billion. The split means the Legislature is likely to look for places to cut from Nixon’s budget proposals.
Nixon is proposing a $278 million increase in basic aid for public school districts, which would move Missouri halfway toward covering an estimated $566 million shortfall of what’s called for under a state funding formula. Missouri currently provides about $3 billion annually for school districts. The governor also proposed nearly $30 million of funding increases for early childhood education and additional funding for higher education. That would include a $42 million increase for public colleges and universities distributed based upon whether they have met performance goals, nearly $20 million for schools to train more mental health professionals and a roughly $28 million increase for college scholarship programs.
3. TOUGH SELLS
Nixon is renewing his push to expand Missouri’s Medicaid health care program to more lower-income adults and to restore caps on campaign donations. Both were featured in the governor’s State of the State speech last year and neither received a warm reception from the Legislature.
4. POMP AND CIRCUMSTANCE
The State of the State address is delivered before a joint legislative session in the House chamber. Governors enter the chamber through a set of double-doors in the rear, walk down the center aisle shaking hands and speak from the House dais. Previously, the speech was given during the day, but it has been held in the evening since 2005. Among those attending the speech are members of the Missouri Supreme Court, agency directors and guests specifically mentioned and introduced by the governor during his address.
5. THE REBUTTAL
House Speaker Tim Jones said in the Republican response to Nixon’s speech that Missouri needs a tax cut to compete economically with neighboring states. He said Nixon wants more of Missouri residents’ tax dollars to increase spending and grow government and Republicans will not let that happen.