THE STATE OF THE STATE
"I won't rest until every Missourian has access to affordable healthcare."
"The Governor's plan does nothing to fix the damage."
AND BLUNT"S RESPONSE TO NIXON'S RESPONSE:
"It is Jay Nixon's job to gripe about our success."
Sitting on a budget surplus, Governor Matt Blunt proposed dishing out millions of new dollars for education, healthcare and crime-fighting in his fourth State of the State address.
But Democrats charge his new spending priorities come at the expense of those Blunt cut from the Medicaid rolls.
You can watch our special panel's reaction to Blunt's State of the State speech HERE. Participants included three Republicans, ranging in views from moderate to conservative, a Missouri State University professor and a disability advocate with the Southwest Center for Independent Living.
Blunt's entire speech has been posted on YouTube HERE.
You can watch Democratic Attorney General Jay Nixon's response to the address HERE.
“Democrats believe we must change direction. But let’s be clear, we’re not talking about raising taxes. We’re talking about investing your tax dollars in people," Nixon said. “You will hear a lot of talk from the Governor about his health care scheme, but make no mistake: It does nothing to help the elderly or Missourians with disabilities. And it does nothing to cover the 127,000 children without health insurance. Its objective is to take money from regular Missourians who need health care and put it in the pockets of the HMOs and insurance companies." Nixon added.
Blunt's office quickly responded to Nixon's speech with this: “It is my job to report to the people of Missouri on how the changes we are making are working for the best interests of Missouri. It is Jay Nixon’s job to gripe about our success in terms that serve his interests and the interests of his political campaign."
Blunt's proposals for tax cuts seemed to impress the Republicans on the KY3 political panel, but some expressed concern about the large amount of spending. "I'm glad to see he was committed to cutting taxes," said conservative Paul Seale. "But I'm a little concerned about the spending on social programs."
Former legislative candidate Joe Pyles said he liked Blunt's plan to cut property taxes. "I'm pleased to see him maturing in his leadership," Pyles said.
Republican Matt Lyons called the speech "easily the best one he has delivered as Governor." "He made a strong case for his election, and he'll be a strong candidate in the fall," Lyons said.
But Marion Trimble of the Southwest Center for Independent Living said she wished she had heard more from the Governor about his plan for the Ticket-to-Work program, which allows low-income disabled people to work for health care coverage. "The program enables people to go to work, it's a bridge of freedom."
Dr. Andy Cline of Missouri State University said the speech was at times a typical laundry list of legislative goodies that politicians dole out in election years. He said Blunt's call to execute sex offenders who rape children could run into some legislative if not legal problems.
The following is a quick rundown of what Gov. Blunt proposed in his speech:
- $5 million dollars for 100 technically advanced classrooms
- $1.1 million dollars for after-school programs
- $25 million dollars for student scholarships to community colleges
- Banning of lobbyist gifts to the entire executive branch of state government
- Constitutional measure to prevent Missouri judges from imposing new taxes
- Mandatory levy rollbacks on property taxes
- $2.5 million dollars for the mental health of veterans
- Eliminating all state income taxes on military retiree benefits
- Implementing a B5 biodiesel standard
- $400,000 for energy audits of municipality water systems
- Week-long tax sales tax holiday on purchases of environmentally-friendly Energy Star appliances
- Requiring sex offenders to add e-mail addresses to their online profiles
- Making the rape of a Missouri child punishable by the death penalty
- Endorsing English as the state's official language
- Several illegal immigration initiatives, including making it a crime to transport any illegal immigrant