COLUMBIA — In the 2012 State of the State address, Gov. Jay Nixon spoke to the major issues facing the legislature and Missourians this year.
The full transcript of Nixon's remarks are available here. State Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, along with House Majority Floor Leader Timothy Jones, R-Eureka, delivered the Republican response to the address.
During his speech, Nixon spoke about his budget priorities and Missouri's financial situation for the upcoming year.
Here are some highlights from Nixon's speech:
Nixon opened with an anecdote about the toughness of Missourians over the last year with the story of Joplin High School senior, Quinton Anderson, who lost both his parents and was badly injured when a tornado struck Joplin, killing 161.
"Missourians stood up, got to work, showed our strength," Nixon said. "Yes, times have been tough. But Missourians have always been tougher. And that’s why I’m so optimistic about our future."
Nixon spoke to the growth of Missouri exports and how Missouri Works helps businesses sell Missouri products across the nation and the world. Missouri Works, a job creation strategy, was announced by Nixon in early January.
"It’s clear the world wants what Missouri’s got: Cotton and chemicals. Soybeans and semiconductors. F-150s and F-15s," Nixon said. "When I talk about selling Missouri-made goods overseas, I don’t mean just the Fortune 500s that have an established global footprint. Competing globally is just as important for small businesses and family farms in every corner of our state."
In addition, Nixon announced that the new budget will contain record funding for K-12 education, but that improvements need to be made in charter schools, calling on the legislature to create a charter school accountability this session.
Nixon also addressed the issue of affordability of higher education in Missouri.
"Education can’t stop at high school," Nixon said. "Because by the next decade, nearly two-thirds of all jobs in the United States will require some kind of post-secondary education. That means more Missouri kids will need a college degree. But too many families simply can’t afford the cost of a college education."
Nixon announced that his budget will include stable funding for state college scholarships, including Bright Flight, Access Missouri and A+ scholarship programs. To make that commitment, Nixon said public colleges and universities need to find more ways to cut administrative inefficiencies to keep costs down.
As written, Nixon's budget includes an $89 million reduction in funding for four- year higher education institutions.
But Nixon said there's still more work to do, including the pieces he outlined in his address.
"That includes balancing our budget, and holding the line on taxes," he said. "That includes putting the Missouri Works strategy in place to create jobs and keep our economy growing. And that includes making a record investment in K-12 classrooms, keeping college affordable, and helping all Missouri children achieve their dreams."
Nixon concluded by pledging that Missouri will continue to take the extra step — a phrase he used nearly 10 times throughout the speech — to keep Missouri moving forward.