Fellow Missourians. Let me speak directly with you.
In 2004 I promised leadership, vision and change. It was more than a slogan, it defined a mission. You elected me to chart a new course.
And together we are creating a future of greater opportunity for all Missourians.
We inherited a budget that was $1.1 billion in the red and turned it into three straight surpluses without increasing taxes. In fact, we cut taxes.
In contrast to the old education withholdings and cuts, my budgets will have delivered 1.2 billion new dollars to our universities, classrooms and students.
A broke and broken Medicaid system is being transformed into a network of care offering vulnerable Missourians healthier lives at a cost taxpayers can afford.
We have turned record job loss into nearly 90,000 new jobs.
Hundreds of millions of dollars in waste has been eliminated and we reduced the size of government.
What we set out to achieve four years ago has been accomplished.
Once when asked if he were running for re-election another governor responded, “Yes, I like being governor.”
When I read that I thought at the time that I never wanted to run for any office just to hold it. I did not run for governor to have a title, but to bring change to state government.
The habit of politicians is to remain in office and the desire to prove oneself in the next election is strong. But after a great deal of thought and prayer, and with the knowledge that we have achieved virtually everything I set out to accomplish and more, I will not seek a second term in the upcoming election. Because I feel we have changed what I wanted to change in the first term, there is not the same sense of mission for a second.
At the end of my term, I will have served 20 years in public service, 10 years in the United States Navy followed by 10 years in state government. Melanie and our son William Branch mean the world to me. I have spent more time away from them than I would like. We are ready for the next chapter in our lives and I am looking forward to spending more time with them.
Some will wrongly think that this is a retirement from the effort to improve the lives of Missourians. But they will have failed to understand that the greatest and wisest leadership of our state is not housed within the ornate offices of the Capitol. It springs from our citizens, communities, churches and institutions of private life.
There are new and important initiatives we can achieve this year, and their success will help keep the change working for Missouri families. I will focus on these initiatives.
To serve as your governor is a great privilege. I will continue to work every day to be worthy of the faith and confidence you have placed in me.
Thank you for listening, and may God continue to bless our great state.