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This Week in the Governor’s Office: Week of Jan. 16

Gov. Eric Greitens had a busy week marked by three major events: his decision to withhold $146 million from the state budget, his State of the State address and his travels to Washington to be part of President Donald Trump’s inauguration.

Greitens’ State of the State address garnered a warm reception from Republicans and business leaders around the state for its commitment to conservative, business-friendly policy changes that many of the Right argue have been sorely needed as Missouri’s economic growth lags behind other states. The full speech can be read here, but in it, Greitens reiterated his support for right-to-work legislation, tort reform, regulatory reform, and strong ethics reform.

On the other hand, House Democratic leadership largely dismissed the speech as mere rhetoric given the lack of budget proposals offered by Greitens, which is traditionally done in concert with a State of the State address.

Greitens breaks from tradition in State of the State address

The other big budget news from Greitens’ office was the announcement that he planned to withhold an additional $146 million from the budget. Former Gov. Jay Nixon cut $210 million in the last three months of his administration. The areas hardest hit included the Department of Higher Education, and a takeaway of $8 million from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s transportation funding.

The debate surrounding what is causing the budget crunch has the two sides of the political spectrum looking to blame the other. Republicans point to increased spending for health care through Medicaid as a major reason for the shortfall, while Democrats point to corporate tax cuts to explain declining revenue.

Greitens also named Carol Comer as the new director of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. Comer formerly worked as the commissioner of Indiana’s Department of Environmental Management under then Indiana Gov. Mike Pence. Greitens, as with many of his cabinet picks, made the announcement over social media.

On Monday, Greitens also attended the MLK Day celebration – the first of which the governor, speaker of the House, and senate pro tem attended.