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Jay Nixon will deliver his fourth State of the State Address as Missouri Governor tonight. KBIA will air the the speech live at 7pm, hosted by St. Louis Public Radio's Marshall Griffin and Bill Raack.KBIA will also air the Republican Party response, followed by a live roundtable from the Capitol rotunda, featuring Intersection host Reuben Stern and four panelists.

Recap: Governor Nixon delivers State of the State address

Ryan Famuliner

Governor Jay Nixon pitched a nearly $26 billion budget to the state of Missouri during Monday night's State of the State Address. It includes spending increases for K-12 schools, higher education, and the proposed Medicaid expansion he’s been calling for since late November.

Governor Nixon has been criticized over the past two years for cuts to Missouri’s universities and colleges, including a $9 million cut last year. But this year’s about-face is based on positive estimates of the state’s revenue growth. Nixon told lawmakers he wants to increase education spending by $150 million.

“That’s $17 million more for early childhood education," Nixon said. "That’s $34 million more for Higher Education, and that’s $100 million more for our K-12 classrooms!”

The Governor also talked about the length of Missouri’s school year, which he said is too short and called on lawmakers to add six days to the public school year. The $34 million increase to higher education would also come with some conditions. Nixon endorsed tying funding to performance standards, including increased student retention and graduation rates.

The Governor spent nearly 8 minutes talking about Medicaid. As expected, he called for expanding Medicaid to an additional $300,000 Missourians, $259,000 in the next fiscal year, and the rest in the coming years.

“Will we let the tax dollars that Missourians send to Washington be spent in other states instead?" Nixon said. "The people of Missouri deserve to see their tax dollars come back to their communities.”

Democratic lawmakers gave him several standing ovations during the Medicaid portion of the address, while the GOP majority mostly remained quiet, save for a few groans and chuckles. Nixon acknowledged their skepticism.

“Now I know there are some who have voiced concern that Washington will not live up to its commitment," Nixon said. "Let me address that directly." Nixon paused for a brief round of laughter from the audience.

"I support including a provision that rolls back the Medicaid expansion if Washington doesn't honor its financial commitment," Nixon said.

But even that revelation didn’t mollify the GOP’s opposition to the Governor’s Medicaid expansion plans.  House Speaker Tim Jones delivered the Republican Response immediately after the Governor’s address.

“We have a Governor and a federal government that believes bigger government is the answer," Jones said. "They want to take us down a fiscally irresponsible path that will saddle future generations of Missourians with a bill they cannot afford. It’s a path Republicans will not follow."

Jones said that Governor Nixon has ignored the state’s real medical crisis: the Missouri Supreme Court’s decision to get rid of caps on medical malpractice damage awards. Jones also attacked the Governor’s track record on education spending, specifically his $9 million cut to higher education last year

“Despite his claims that these cuts had to be made to balance the budget, he was able to find nearly $6 million of your tax money to buy a brand new plane," Jones said.

On the topic of ethics reform, Governor Nixon in recent years has called on Republican lawmakers to join Democrats in restoring campaign contribution limits — a call that’s gone unanswered each year.  This time, he took a hard-line approach.

“If the legislature does not send a campaign contribution limit bill to my desk, I will do everything within my power to get it on the ballot and make sure it passes," Nixon said.

After the address, Jones called the Governor’s tone on campaign contribution limits too strong, and Speaker Pro-tem Jason Smith in effect called Nixon a hypocrite for accepting donations much higher than the cap that used to exist.

Governor Nixon also announced plans to cut 190 state jobs, which would include some layoffs – and he unveiled four proposed bond issues that would fund improvements to K-12 schools, college campuses, state parks, and the state’s mental hospital at Fulton. Nixon said they would be paid for by reforming Missouri’s system of tax credits. 

Lawmakers have until early May to pass the state budget.

Missouri Public Radio State House Reporter Marshall Griffin is a proud alumnus of the University of Mississippi (a.k.a., Ole Miss), and has been in radio for over 20 years, starting out as a deejay. His big break in news came when the first President Bush ordered the invasion of Panama in 1989. Marshall was working the graveyard shift at a rock station, and began ripping news bulletins off the old AP teletype and reading updates between songs. From there on, his radio career turned toward news reporting and anchoring. In 1999, he became the capital bureau chief for Florida's Radio Networks, and in 2003 he became News Director at WFSU-FM/Florida Public Radio. During his time in Tallahassee he covered seven legislative sessions, Governor Jeb Bush's administration, four hurricanes, the Terri Schiavo saga, and the 2000 presidential recount. Before coming to Missouri, he enjoyed a brief stint in the Blue Ridge Mountains, reporting and anchoring for WWNC-AM in Asheville, North Carolina. Marshall lives in Jefferson City with his wife, Julie, their dogs, Max and Mason, and their cat, Honey.