Nixon’s SOTS: A call for “Healing & Hope”
January 22, 2015

(AP) – Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon implored lawmakers to embrace policies that “foster healing and hope” Wednesday as he delivered his first State of the State address since the unrest that erupted over the fatal police shooting of a black 18-year-old in Ferguson.

Nixon acknowledged that the death of Michael Brown – and the sometimes violent protests that ensued – had focused the eyes of the nation on Missouri during the past year, prompting discussions about “race and equality, education and economic opportunity, law enforcement and the courts.”

“The legacy of Ferguson will be determined by what we do next to foster healing and hope and the changes we make to strengthen all of our communities,” Nixon said in a nearly 50-minute speech to a joint session of the House and Senate.

The Democratic governor called for an update to Missouri’s law on the police use of deadly force as he outlined an agenda that also includes an increase in funding for public schools, albeit one that would still fall hundreds of millions short of what is considered a fully funded system. Nixon also advocated for the consideration of a gas tax hike or tolls for aging highways, stronger ethics laws and a renewed call to expand Medicaid eligibility to low-income adults.

Nixon’s proposed $26 billion budget for the 2016 fiscal year would keep spending relatively flat compared with the current year, a carryover effect from revenues that fell significantly short of expectations last year. He also asked lawmakers to approve $353 million of repairs and renovations at the Capitol, college campuses, state parks and office buildings under a bonding plan that legislators previously authorized.

Nixon has been criticized by some for his handling of the response to Brown’s shooting – first for not acting quickly enough to quell tensions between protesters and heavily armored police in August, and later for not preemptively deploying the National Guard to troubled spots in Ferguson when a grand jury decision not to indict officer Darren Wilson was announced in November.

During his remarks Wednesday related to Ferguson, Nixon said there often is “too much fear and too little trust.”

“Some folks feel they have to choose sides: Them or us. Teens or cops. Black or white,” Nixon said. He added: “The truth is real and lasting change is only possible when we stand together.”

As a first step, Nixon encouraged lawmakers to “reform municipal courts,” something Republicans also have embraced, in response to complaints from Ferguson protesters and other St. Louis-area residents about cities that derive a large percentage of their revenues from traffic tickets.

Senate President Pro Tem Tom Dempsey said he also agrees with Nixon that Missouri needs to update its deadly force laws to be brought in line with U.S. Supreme Court precedent. The court had ruled in a Tennessee case a couple of decades ago that deadly force cannot be used against an apparently unarmed fleeing suspect who poses no serious danger to police or others.

Nixon said officials must recruit and train police who reflect the diversity of the communities they serve. And he implored lawmakers to “support policies that foster racial understanding,” create economic opportunity and strengthen failing schools.

Many of his suggestions received more applause from Democrats than from Republicans. But GOP lawmakers joined in a standing ovation when Nixon said he was proud of law enforcement officers.

House Speaker John Diehl, who delivered a Republican response speech, accused Nixon of poor leadership during the Ferguson events and pledged that legislators would investigate why the National Guard was not used in Ferguson on the night of the grand jury decision.

“Our governor failed to communicate his polices and fulfill his promises, and Missourians paid the price as Ferguson was looted and destroyed,” Diehl said.

Diehl said the Republican agenda includes removing “those who are capable of earning a living wage” from Missouri’s welfare rolls. He also pledged that lawmakers would pass a bill expanding the availability of charter schools and online schools for students in public schools lacking state accreditation.

Nixon’s budget plan includes a $50 million increase in basic aid for public schools. He said that could be boosted by an additional $79 million if legislators pass several measures to generate revenues, including expanding Medicaid eligibility under the terms of President Barack Obama’s health care law. But such proposals have failed in past years, and Republican legislators appear unlikely to pass them this session.

To fully fund Missouri’s school formula in 2016 would require a $482 million increase to the nearly $3.2 billion in basic aid that schools are due to receive this year.

Some education groups said a $50 million increase wouldn’t be enough to avoid cuts in certain school districts.

“This is going to create problems for our schools. … It could mean teacher layoffs,” said Mike Wood, the government relations director for the Missouri State Teachers Association.

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, said he would support an additional $100 million funding increase for public schools.

But House Budget Committee Chairman Tom Flanigan said he has no target yet for how much money he hopes to provide to schools. He said next year’s budget likely will be lean.

“New spending is going to be tough,” Flanigan, R-Carthage, said.

Nixon Calls for Medicaid Expansion , School Money and Campaign Reform in State of State Speech
January 28, 2013


Missouri Governor Jay Nixon laid out his call for expanding Medicaid in Missouri, as expected in his fifth State of the Speech.
Nixon kept with tradition by delivering the speech to a joint session of the Missouri Legislature in the House Chamber.
Since Dember, the Democratic Governor has been calling for an expansion of Medicaid to up to 300,000 Missourians. The move is response to an element in the new health care law, sometimes called ‘ Obamacare’ that will reduce some Medicaid payments.
Nixon acknowledge the health care is unpopular in Missouri.
“This isn’t the time to re-open the debate or reargue the merits of the President’s health care plan. I had some problems with it, and I know many of you did as well. But Congress passed it – the President signed it – and the Supreme Court upheld it.”
Missouri Speaker of the House Tim Jones gave the Republican Response to Nixon’s speech. He all but declared the Nixon plan dead on arrival at the lawmaker’s door.
“It’s a path Republicans will not follow,” Jones declared..
The Speaker says lawmakers will develop their own option to take care of low income Missourians and the State’s rural hospital..
Many of this facilities rely heavily of Medicaid payments because so many of their patients are in the program.
Nixon added a wrinkle to the Medicaid debate.
He pledged to roll the program back if Washington does not follow through with money to help pay for the expansion.
Governor Nixon also proposed spending an additional $150 million on Missouri public schools.
It includes more money for early childhood,$100 million for early childhood programs and money for higher education.
Nixon also want to tie the money to increased academics performance.
Jones, in his response, ripped Nixon for saying one thing about school spending, but ultimately cutting school money through budget withholdings.
The Democratic Governor also renewed Shia called for a returned to campaign contribution limits in Missouri. There are none, since a court struck down the limitations a few years ago.
Nixon says that lack of control erodes public trust..
With campaign limits Nixon predicts, “eventually, if we continue on this path, there will be no trust left at all.”
The Governor says if the Republican Legislature does not make campaign finance reforms, he’ll try to. Put the issue on a statewide ballot. He is confident it would be approved.
As he did in his Inaugural Speech, Nixon appealed for bipartisanship with the veto-proof GOP majority in both Chambers during his speech.


Brownback’s 2013 Plan in Tonight’s ‘State of the State’ Speech
January 15, 2013



Kansas Governor Sam Brownback lays out his agenda for 2013 in his ’State of the State’ speech Tuesday night.
Brownback will address a joint session of the Kansas legislature from the house Chambers at 6:30 Tuesday evening (for a list of broadcast and web outlets, see below).
The Governor comes to the speech with dominating Republican majorities in both the house and the Senate.
That may make it easier for him to continue his pledge to reform the state tax code in hopes that a better business climate will spurt the Kansas economy. Recent statistics have shown economic growth in the state as it emerges from the recession.
The Governor’s main challenge may be to keep the Statehouse conservatives in step with the Administration.
Some may push to eliminate the one-cent sales tax surcharge that was added by then Governor Mark Parkinson several years ago.
Another late development is the school court ruling handed out late last week. That ruling found the state government had violated its own constitution by not spending enough money on public education in the state.
Attorney general Derek Schmidt immediately announced he would appeal the ruling.
The case, however, may shape the budget decisions confronting the lawmakers.
Monday, the 2013 legislature opened for its 90-day run.
For the first time in years, the Speaker of the House is from Johnson County in suburban Kansas City, Missouri.
Stillwell Republican Ray Merrick told the House Members in his opening address, “A legislative session that promises open communication between chambers and the support of the executive branch,” he said. “We know the budget is always a challenge, but especially this year because we chose to leave more money in the pockets of hard-working Kansans and to commit to running the state on less,” according to the Topeka capital Journal.
Monday, the Governor’s Office released a list of the broadcast and web outlets where Gov. Brownback’s ‘State of the State’ speech can be seen or heard:

KPTS (Wichita)
KTWU (Topeka)
Smoky Hills Public Television (Central and Western Kansas)
WIBW-TV (Topeka) on My TV Channel 13.2 live

Kansas Information Network (Find the list of network’s 33 affiliates located across the state here

Kansas Public Radio
• KANU-Lawrence / Topeka / Kansas City FM 91.5
• KANH-Emporia FM 89.7
• KANV-Olsburg / Junction City FM 91.3 and in Manhattan on FM 99.5

High Plains Public Radio
• KANZ- Garden City FM 91.1
• KZNA-Hill City FM 90.5
• With assorted transmitters and translators all across western KS

Radio Kansas
• KHCC-Hutchinson / Wichita FM 90.1
• KHCD-Salina / Manhattan FM 89.5
• KHCT-Great Bend / Hays FM 90.9

KMUW-Wichita FM 89.1

KRPS-Pittsburg, KS FM 89.9

KCUR-Kansas City, Missouri FM 89.3

Intertnet Livestreaming

Brownback State of State, Tax Reform, School Finance State “Strong and Getting Stronger”
January 11, 2012

Brownback Speech Highlights:
-Governor, “I’m bullish on Kansas”
-Tax Reform
-Budget with a 7.5% cushion
-State Employment Pension Reform
-School Finance Reform

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback told a joint session of the legislature Wednesday night, “We gotta grow.”
Brownback outlined an ambitious program for the 2012 lawmakers. His program includes major state tax reform; state employee pension reform and a complete overhaul of the state’s complex school finance formula.
Any one of the three would be a big project on its own in a legislative session. Even one dominated by the Governor’s party, which is the case in Kansas.
The Republican called for a “fairer, flatter, simpler”, state tax system. Brownback is proposing lowering the state’s top individual tax rate from 6.4% to 4.9%.
He wants to eliminate most tax credits, deductions and exemptions. He also called for eliminating the income tax for most small business.
“This will get us ever closer to the pro-growth states with no income taxes”. He called the six states with no state income tax among the country’s “strongest economic performers.”
A move is developing in some conservative Kansas circles to eliminate the state’s income tax. Some would replace it with a broad consumption tax that has few, if any, exemptions. They says state revenues would not be hurt because more Kansas would pay than is the case with the sales tax.
House Democratic leader Paul Davis, however, disagrees. In the democratic response to Brownback’s speech Davis says “Brownback’s plan largely benefits corporations and the wealthiest of Kansans”.
Davis and the Democrats believe a property tax cut should be the first priority.
In his speech, Davis claims the property taxes have risen 65% in the last decade.
Brownback called the last 10 years in Kansas, ‘the Lost Decade”, because of the job and businesses losses over that time.
The Governor also called for lawmakers to re-write the complex school finance formula in this session.
His plan calls for an additional $45 million for the state’s schools. Of particular interest in Johnson County is the idea to increase the option of letting local voters raise their school taxes without limit, to a point at which they are comfortable.
The Governor says his plan would not mean any less money for any school district than it is receiving now.
The Governor says re-working the formula is a way to end the sets of lawsuits the state has faced for years over the schools.
‘The people elected us, not the courts, to run the schools”, he said.
Davis, the Democrat, sees flaws with the plan.
In his speech, he rejected the call for a whole scale reform of the school formula.
He says excess state money should go to the schools first, not retiring the state debt.
Davis countered the Governor’s claim that tax breaks will restore the state’s economy.
“The seeds of prosperity,” Davis said in his response, “are planted at the schoolhouse door.”

Brownback talks About The Wedding
January 11, 2012

During his State of the State speech Wednesday night, Kansas Governor Brownback shared some of his feelings about the New Year’s Eve marriage of his daughter, Abby.
He said that marriage of one of his children may not have made him feel old, but certainly mature.
He added the wedding was, “exciting, wonderful and very expensive. I need to get back to work.”