Prepared text of Missouri Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder's Republican response to Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon's State of the State address Wednesday, as provided by the Republican Party.
Thank you, and good evening.
It's an honor to speak to you tonight, and with the many Missourians watching this broadcast at home.
These are tough times, and I know you're here tonight and watching at home because you want honest answers about the future of our state.
Twelve months ago, Gov. Nixon announced that hundreds of millions of dollars of so-called "stimulus" funds were heading to Missouri. And, despite our warnings, he irresponsibly chose to balance his budget with that money.
Here we are, one year later. And due to the governor's failure to act swiftly to address the budget crisis, we now face an even bigger shortfall.
As for those federal stimulus dollars: the governor has already spent over 80 percent of that money.
You see, we were promised that this money would help put people back to work. But today our state is facing a nearly 10 percent unemployment rate; the highest rate in over a quarter of a century. Just days ago we found out that Missouri lost another 2,600 jobs in December, adding to the thousands of Missourians who have lost their jobs since Gov. Nixon took office.
Tonight, just like Washington politicians, Gov. Nixon called for several new government programs. But each of these new programs will cost money — money that we do not have.
Now is not the time for ideas to grow the size of government. Our most important goal should be putting people back to work period.
While Gov. Nixon made a promise tonight to not raise taxes, just weeks ago his tax commission voted to raise taxes on Missouri farmers by almost 29 percent. This is a devastating blow to our agricultural producers after one of the worst farm income years since 1945.
In the coming days, Missouri Republicans will move to stop this tax hike from Gov. Nixon.
Tonight, Republicans in Missouri will make this promise: we will not raise your taxes.
Instead, we will tighten our belts and find ways to stretch every dollar, just like countless Missouri families do everyday.
Last year, the governor refused to consult with us, borrowed money from the state's rainy day fund, shuffled money in closed door meetings and cooked the books' with Wall Street-style accounting.
There has been no transparency in the budget process — the governor has kept Missourians in the dark. And when lawmakers passed a bill to make the governor's budget accessible to you online, the governor vetoed that bill.
I believe all of us deserve to know how our tax dollars are being spent. You expect your government to live within its means. That is a promise you have from your Republican leaders. It's a pledge the governor has refused to live up to.
Many of you had to wait until late summer to receive your income tax refunds.
Last year, Gov. Nixon mismanaged Missouri's budget and literally ran our state into a deficit. Then after depleting the state's checking account, he used your income tax refunds to fill those budgetary holes
They claimed it was because of delays in processing. But we later found out we were once again being misled. Your tax returns were not delayed because of "processing issues," but rather due to Gov. Nixon's huge budget shortfalls.
I, for one, do not believe it is acceptable for the governor to sit on the money you are lawfully owed just so he can pay bills.
Republicans know that is your money.
So, in the coming days, Republican lawmakers in the House and Senate will file a joint resolution telling Gov. Nixon that we expect him to return your money to you on time.
Because how we handle taxpayer money in difficult times says a lot about our values.
Over the past year, Gov. Nixon has slashed funding for education. He has reduced money from your local school's transportation budget. And he has cut funding for scholarships for Missouri students. But he has not made the same sacrifices he is demanding from others.
I don't believe that you can effectively propose to overhaul government, transform budgets and reform ethics when you aren't willing to take those steps on your own.
Here are the facts: the governor has the largest and highest paid personal staff of any Missouri governor in history.
I was shocked to learn that while we offered to cut our office budget, the governor actually asked for more funding. That, to me and thousands of unemployed Missourians, is unacceptable.
You see, on Gov. Nixon's watch, nearly 62,000 Missourians have seen their jobs disappear. That's nearly 170 Missourians losing jobs each day.
Last year, when the unemployment rate was much lower, the governor made the mistake of relying on a federal bailout. He dismissed concerns about skyrocketing debt and actually said, and I quote, "If there's debt, Missouri kids and grandkids will pay that debt off." A truly shocking statement.
Our burden should not be passed on to future generations.
Instead, we must help Missouri's small businesses create new, innovative jobs. That is the only way our state will remain competitive in an ever evolving global market.
Right now, leaders in St. Louis are moving forward with the global trade initiative and the Midwest China Hub Commission. These projects are critical to ignite job creation, and yet to this day, Gov. Nixon is dragging his feet on this project. I am hopeful that in the coming months, he will join us in supporting this significant investment opportunity.
A bright economic future depends on how successful we are at preparing Missouri students for the jobs of tomorrow. That means providing guaranteed funding for our K-12 classrooms and ensuring that our state colleges provide the most innovative learning environments imaginable.
Tonight, the governor also talked about reforming the ethics of political culture here in Jefferson City. Republicans support a true ethical review in the Missouri statehouse but we must start from the top down.
In the past year, lawmakers have credibly charged Gov. Nixon's staff with offering them jobs for their votes. The governor has rewarded top donors with the state's most lucrative fee offices and withheld vital health and safety information from the public. Right now, a Senate committee is reviewing the actions of Gov. Nixon's Department of Natural Resources. It's a sad day when journalists have to ask the governor, "Who knew what, and when."
Most importantly tonight, I want you to know that Republicans are standing with you.
We understand times are tough, and that means we will oppose anything that threatens to cost you more money.
In a corrupt process, President Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid are writing a healthcare bill that will force hundreds of millions in new state spending and hand Missouri taxpayers the bill.
To be clear: that is money we do not have.
Democrats in Washington intend to pay for their health care experiment by shifting massive costs to each state. Their bill includes billions of dollars in job-killing new taxes on businesses and individuals — but up to this point Gov. Nixon has refused to speak out on the plan.
While governors from both parties across America are speaking out on this violation of state's sovereignty, our governor remains silent.
Gov. Phil Bredesen, a Democrat from Tennessee, has said this health care bill is, "the mother of all unfunded mandates."
And California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who supported this bill in its early form, has now come out against the legislation after calculating the true cost on the residents of his state.
He may have said it best:
What began as a "noble" health reform effort has become a "trough of special bribes, deals, and loopholes."
By remaining silent, Gov. Nixon is aiding and abetting the Washington Democrats agenda — and that is unacceptable. But if the governor will not speak up, we will.
Barely 24-hours ago, the Republican-led House of Representatives passed a resolution demanding that Democrats in Congress stop their dangerous experiment with our health care system.
I sent a letter to Gov. Nixon a few weeks ago and have yet to hear back, so tonight on live TV, I'll pose my question once again: "Gov. Nixon, Missourians deserve to know. Will you join us in opposition to this federal health care disaster?"
You see, Missouri Republicans take health care very seriously.
We have continued to fund health clinics around the state so that children of the most low-income families in Missouri can be seen by a doctor for free. The list of these clinics can be found online at www.MoKidsCovered.com — that Web site again is, www.MoKidsCovered.com.
Right now, we are also taking the first steps in addressing medical coverage for thousands of families across our state that have children with autism. This bill continues the dialogue, and recognizes the importance for lawmakers to work together in finding a way to expand health care coverage for families dealing with autism.
In closing, Republicans want you to know that we are standing with you.
While some elected officials believe that you are lucky to have them in office, we are humbled and honored to serve the citizens of this great state. We take that creed seriously.
While we face challenges and uncertainty, I know we Missourians are a determined people, and together we will rise to meet any challenge.
You know the value of hard work and strong values. For decades we have defended those values and tonight I promise you, our commitment is renewed with sincere vigor.
We are proud to call Missouri home. And together, we will work to build a future that is better place for our families, our children and grandchildren because of the tough decisions we make here today.
Thank you for listening tonight.
May God bless you, and may God continue to bless the Great State of Missouri.