Jay Nixon proposes boldest agenda yet
The Kansas City Star
Plainly emboldened by re-election and an improving economy, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon is proposing his most expansive budget and agenda yet.
As previously announced, Nixon wants Missouri to vastly expand Medicaid eligibility as called for in the federal health care reform law. Ultimately about 300,000 persons would receive health insurance coverage, and the state would receive an economic and budgetary boost.
Other details, which the governor will lay out in his state-of-the-state speech tonight:
—He is supporting a bond issue to pay for capital improvements to public school and university buildings, buildings in state parks and improvements at the decrepit Fulton State Hospital.
—He wants the state to start collecting sales taxes on Internet purchases from out-of-state retailers.
— His budget doubles the state’s funding for early childhood education, and gives elementary and secondary education as well as colleges and universities some much-needed additional funding over last year.
Nixon’s budget also expands funding for arts, tourism, child care subsidies and care for the developmentally disabled. The amounts aren’t huge, but they are a sign that Missouri is climbing out of the economic doldrums and the governor is recommending investments in education, families and economic development.
I am struck by the difference between Nixon’s budget and the spending plan proposed by Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback.
Brownback is basically betting the farm on his income tax cuts. Having put Kansas into a deep fiscal hole, he has little room for the kinds of investments that Nixon is making in schools, universities and health.
Assuming Nixon can hold off Missouri’s Republican-controlled legislature and multimillionaire Rex Sinquefield from enacting Kansas-style income tax cuts, we will have a fascinating window over the next few years as to which approach is more appealing to job creators: super-low tax rates and diminished services as we’re seeing in Kansas, or conservative tax levels and modest investments in education and services, as Nixon is recommending.