First a few bits…
Witte to Return
Minority Leader Jake Hummel is hiring former state representative Terry Witte as his chief of staff. Witte was a popular legislator – known for his dry humor. He was term limited in 2010. See his bio here.
AP Confirms Rupp Rumor
As rumored for a few weeks now, AP has Sen. Scott Rupp saying that he will be nominated for the Public Service Commission in March. Read it here.
Nasheed Still Mad
Sen. Jamilah Nasheed appeared to be having a ball during the State of the State, at times wildly clapping at Governor Jay Nixon’s applause lines. But it’s said she’s still fiery mad at the gov for his choke-hold on the low-income tax credit. Is she mad enough to burn the Hall down? We’ll see…
McDaniel for House 80… in 2016
Missy McDaniel was making the rounds last night. She’s the committeewoman from St. Louis City’s 15th Ward, and it looks like Rep. Mike Colona will be handing off House 80 to her in 2016. It’d be a sort of homecoming for her, as she worked as a Senate intern/staffer two decades ago in her twenties….
Rumorville: The Return of Crowell?
One tipster says that former state senator Jason Crowell is eyeing a run for a judgeship in Cape Girardeau. And that rumor conforms with a second politico’s observation that Crowell has “suddenly awoken from hibernation” in the southeast, showing up at committee meetings and other functions….
Generally Unconstitutional Laws
One lobbyist jokes that Sen. Brian Nieves’ General Laws Committee should be renamed the Generally Unconstitutional Laws Committees, a nod to his proposals often at odds with the Supremacy Claus.
For example, at today’s committee they’ll hear his SB 613 which “declares that federal supremacy does not apply to federal laws that restrict or prohibit the manufacture, ownership, and use of firearms, firearm accessories, or ammunition within the state.”
Last night’s big deal…
Excerpts from Nixon’s State of the State
Governor Jay Nixon’s speech focused on the budget where he and the Republican majority have different perspectives. See Nixon’s budget here. Republicans were deriding his laundry list of investments in education as “Christmas in January.”
Rah-Rah for Smaller Government
“This past year, all three major rating agencies reaffirmed Missouri's perfect AAA credit rating. Tonight, as I have every year, I am proposing a balanced budget that holds the line on taxes - and continues to downsize government, cutting 81 more positions from state payrolls. By the end of this fiscal year, we will have reduced the state workforce by 4,600 full-time employees.”
Early Childhood Education
“We need to start early. Parents and teachers see it every day: the first few years of a child's development have an impact that lasts a lifetime. A child who starts kindergarten ready to learn, is more likely to succeed in school, go to college, and get a good job… But this year, it's time that we do much more. Kids grow up fast - so there's no time to waste. We must work together to make sure our kids start smart. And that's why my budget will nearly triple funding for the Missouri Preschool Program. We will provide quality early learning opportunities to thousands more kids all across Missouri.”
Elementary and Secondary Education
“That's why my budget increases funding for our K-12 classrooms this year by $278 million, and will put us on a path to fully funding the foundation formula next year. Every one of us has run for office. And when we knocked on doors and folks asked if we believed in public education - we all said yes… Well, you know what? It's time to put our budgets where our campaign brochures are.”
“[O]ver the past five years, Missouri's public universities have led the nation in holding down tuition increases. Number one… That's why I have called on our four-year institutions to once again freeze tuition for Missouri undergraduates. That's right - under my budget, Missouri undergraduates at our public universities should not have to pay a penny more for tuition next year. Not a penny… The best way to attract more of these high-paying jobs is to make sure our workers have the skills to fill them - and that is exactly what our STEM initiative will do. With an initial investment of $22 million, this initiative will help our universities purchase state-of-the-art equipment, expand lab space and – most importantly - produce more graduates in these fast-growing fields.”
“And as we intensify our efforts to make sure that Missourians with mental illness and developmental disabilities get the appropriate care - it's clear that we need more qualified professionals to provide that care. Just look at the numbers - 104 of Missouri's 114 counties are designated as mental health professional shortage areas; 72 counties lack even a licensed psychiatrist… That is why my budget includes a $20 million investment to help our community colleges and universities train 1,200 more mental health professionals.”
“We all know there are problems with Obamacare, and Washington's implementation of it has been abysmal. But rejecting Medicaid won't fix any of those things. It won't keep Missourians from having to pay federal taxes, or exempt our businesses from new requirements under the law. Instead, by standing still, we're making the things we don't like about Obamacare even worse, forcing Missourians to bear all the costs of this law - and reap none of the benefits. Think about that. The people who are suffering now as a result of our failure to act don't work in the White House - they work the night shift in our factories. They wait tables and scrub floors. They drive snow plows and look after our kids. Right now, hundreds of thousands of these working Missourians can't afford to get the basic health services they need to lead healthy, productive lives.”
Excertps from Jones’ Response
Speaker Tim Jones mostly reiterated the same agenda he rolled out in his opening day speech: tax cut, medical malpractice, and right to work.
“The people of Missouri elected record majorities of Republicans to lead, and that is what we will do… We will work hard to pass the first significant tax reform our state has seen in nearly 100 years. A lower tax burden will provide our citizens and businesses with the economic freedom to grow. You, the people of Missouri, know better how to spend your hard-earned dollars than the government.”
“Many states surrounding us have also successfully reigned in the rising costs of health care by instituting much-needed medical malpractice reform. This year we have the opportunity to follow their lead by ending our punitive litigation culture, and to place the focus of health care back on research, innovation and access to quality care rather than on legal defense funds. It is time we have a system that welcomes patients and great doctors instead of driving them away.”
Right to Work
“One of the best policies we can promote is giving people the right to pursue their dreams and their own economic freedom, to be masters of their own destiny. 24 states have empowered their workers and given them the ultimate freedom to make their own choices; to be free to join whatever organizations they want and to spend their-hard earned wages as they see fit. We owe it to Missouri workers to give them those same choices.”
Accountable Education System
“To ensure a knowledgeable workforce, we must have a public education system that provides a world-class education to our most precious treasure, our children, regardless of their zip code or place of birth… We must fund our public education system appropriately at all levels and then hold school administrators accountable for the billions of taxpayer dollars that they receive each year.”
Katie Casas @katiecasas “Love the idea of quality early childhood education. Concerned about $ going to same systems that do poor job on k-12. #MOSOTS”
Samuel Lee @samuelhlee “@GovJayNixon releases FY2015 budget recommendation. Alternatives to Abortion funds renewed at current level of $1.63 million. Thank you Gov!”
Richard Callow @publiceyestl “Many phrases were left unturned tonight.”
From the Pelopidas website:
Shanon M Hawk added National Association of Social Workers, and Recorders Association of Missouri.
Vanessa Crawford Aragon added Missouri Immigrant and Refugee Advocates.
Charles Ballard added Agape Boarding School.
James C. Bowers, Jr. added Andmato, and Pat and Rosemary Hannan.
Shirley Breeze added Missouri Women’s Network.
Dianne Bricker added America’s Health Insurance Plans.
Brian Colby added MO Health Advocacy Alliance.
Alex T Eaton added Catalyst Group.
Susan Flanigan added Missouri Department of Mental Health.
Patricia R. Jensen added South Plaza Campus LLC.
Jeffrey A Mittman added American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri.
Mary Mosley added Missouri Women’s Network, and MO National Organization for Women.
Amrita Singh added Americans United for Separation of Church and State.
Harry Styron added Tri-State Water Resource Coalition.
Sherry L Doctorian deleted Missouri Creditors Bar Association.
Stand Up Missouri - $45,000 from American Financial Services Association.
Happy birthdays to Rep. Lynn Morris (65), Michelle Colbert (46), Jay Hahn (29), Amber Watson (31), and Mike Lodewegen (29).