As part of the opening ceremonies of the Missouri General Assembly party leaders in both chambers gave remarks on their legislative priorities.
In addressing the House of Representatives, newly elected Speaker of the House, Tim Jones (R-Eureka), promoted his “Triple E Agenda” which is focused on the issues of economic development, energy, and education reform. Specific items in that agenda include revisions in the state’s tax credit programs, a bond insurance proposal for road and infrastructure improvements, pursuing new energy sources, and education reforms like restrictions on teacher unions and the tenure system.
In the Senate, newly chosen President Pro-tem, Tom Demsey (R-St. Peters), promoted his plan of “BIG Solutions”, an acronym for “Build Our Infrastructure,” “Invest in Education” and “Grow Our Economy” that mirrored the house Republican agenda. Senate leaders particularly want to lower tax burdens on individuals and businesses to counter sweeping tax cuts enacted last year by Kansas as a way to attract businesses to that state.
Click here to watch President Pro-tem Demsey’s opening remarks.
One idea not being advocated by Republicans is expanding Medicaid. Governor Nixon wants lawmakers to expand Medicaid as designated in President Obama’s health care law. In their remarks, Republican leaders voiced reluctance to the expansion out of fear for its long-term cost.
In follow-up remarks, Democratic leaders were quick to voice support for the Republicans’ goals of creating new jobs and making revisions in tax policy. But Democratic leaders also endorsed Gov. Nixon’s plan to expand Medicaid.
“Expansion of Medicaid is not only necessary, but it’s also good for the state. It is a job creator that is unprecedented,” said Minority Leader Jolie Justus (D-Kansas City). She also noted that rural hospitals want Medicaid expansion to offset the funding cuts the federal government will make when they stop reimbursing hospitals for taking care of the uninsured.
In his remarks, House Minority Leader Jake Hummel (D-St. Louis), also supported Medicaid expansion stressing that political dogma should not stand in the way of creating jobs and improving access to health care.
Now that both parties have indicated their priorities, the stage is set for the legislative process to begin. Everyone expects spirited debate on all these issues.