Nixon Expected to Call for More School Money in Wednesday Night ‘ State of the State’ Speech

(AP) — Democratic Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon plans to call for increased education funding and bipartisan cooperation as he delivers his annual State of the State address to a Legislature dominated by Republicans.

The governor will outline his budget priorities Wednesday as part of his seventh annual state speech to a joint session of the House and Senate, which has some of its largest GOP ranks in decades.

Nixon already has discussed one part of his agenda – a bonding plan for repairs and renovations at public colleges, universities and state facilities such as the Capitol. Ahead of the speech, his office said Nixon also plans to seek increased funding for all levels of education and will call for additional spending on things “that will create jobs and grow the economy.”

Bipartisan cooperation will be essential if Nixon wants to accomplish anything on his agenda. That’s because Republicans hold a 117-45 advantage over Democrats in the House and a 25-9 Senate majority – both greater than the two-thirds majority required to override gubernatorial vetoes. Last September, some Democrats joined with Republicans to override Nixon’s vetoes on 47 budget items and 11 other bills, including measures cutting income taxes and lengthening the state’s abortion-waiting period.

The governor and lawmakers alike have expressed a desire to boost education funding, but state spending on Missouri’s K-12 schools remains well short of what’s called for under a 2005 law. Schools are expected to get nearly $3.2 billion in basic aid this year. That would have to rise by $482 million – or 15 percent- if they were to be fully funded during the 2016 budget that takes effect July 1.

Nixon has not said how much of a funding increase he will propose for schools.

Missouri’s public colleges and universities are seeking a 5 percent increase in basic state aid, according to requests submitted to Nixon’s budget office by the state Department of Higher Education.

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