JEFFERSON CITY – Below are the prepared remarks given by Gov. Jay Nixon regarding the 2016 legislative session.
Good afternoon. I have a few short comments to make and then I’ll be happy to take some questions.
First, I want to thank members of the legislature for their work over the last four months – some of whom I’ve had the privilege of working with for many years, including President Pro Tem Ron Richard, Senate Minority Leader Joe Keaveny, House Minority Leader Jake Hummel, and Speaker Todd Richardson.
We do not always agree – and on issues like the right to vote, the right of working people to organize, and women’s health, this session laid bare some stark differences.
But, as Missourians, there is more that unites us than divides us. We all share a deep and abiding love of this state, and a commitment to leaving it better than we found it.
That’s why I began the year, as I have every year as governor, with a call to improve the lives of Missouri families by working together around our shared values. Values like fiscal discipline… hard work… educational opportunity… and ethical and accountable government.
And, in many areas, we continued to make progress:
For the eighth consecutive year, we will balance the budget without raising taxes.
For the eighth consecutive year, government will get smaller and more efficient than it was before.
Once again we’re making important – and in some cases transformative – investments to freeze college tuition and strengthen our mental health system. With a few exceptions, the budget that I signed last week reflects the framework I presented in January.
The legislature answered my call to begin to strengthen Missouri’s abysmally weak ethics laws. They didn’t pass everything I wanted, but they took some good steps forward: closing – or at least slowing down – the revolving door, putting in place some common sense limitations on the campaign accounts of former officeholders, and preventing legislators from paying each other for political advice.
I also want to thank the bipartisan group of legislators who took a stand against discrimination – and rejected Senate Joint Resolution 39. This was an important moment for Missouri, a decisive step away from the prejudices of the past, and toward a more diverse, tolerant and inclusive future.
Another key achievement this session was being able to move forward on our rules to improve and enhance law enforcement training standards across the state. Providing more and better training will help cops and the communities they serve.
We worked together to update Missouri’s use of force statute, and protect consumers with sensible regulations on the billion-dollar daily fantasy sports industry.
The legislature expanded access to health care to more vulnerable Missourians.
And last night, turning back another attempt to erode the rights of the working men and women of our state, the General Assembly sustained my veto of paycheck deception. This was a huge victory for workers, and all Missourians.
Those of you who have been here over the past eight years know that this is a setting in which I do my best to contain my enthusiasm for the end of the legislative session … because now the real work begins.
We read every line of every bill, pour over every detail, consider every hypothetical scenario, and – at least try to anticipate every potential consequence.
We’ll also be assessing the fiscal impact of these policies on the state budget.
For eight years, even in the throes of the national recession, we have kept our budget in balance and our Triple A credit rating intact. That’s not true of all states. In fact, since 2009, ten states have been downgraded.
That’s why, with approximately $80 million in tax breaks on their way to my desk that were not accounted for in the budget, I will be taking a close look at their costs – and taking the actions necessary to keep the budget in balance.
Moving forward, the people of Missouri have my commitment that I’m going to work just as hard over the next six months as I did in my first six months: Balancing the budget, recruiting new jobs and investments from around the world, and making government more efficient and effective than ever before.