Gov. Jay Nixon called for increases in education funding and an expanded Medicaid program during his State of the State address Monday.
Nixon, freshly inaugurated after winning a second term in November, recommended the ambitious spending plan as part of his proposed state budget for the fiscal year 2014.
"Together, we've kept our fiscal discipline, and our economy is gaining ground," Nixon said. "We now have a unique opportunity to build a better future for our children. We must seize it."
The budget calls for a $17 million increase for early childhood education, a $100 million increase in K-12 funding and an additional $34 million for higher education funding in the state. Nixon cut $9 million from the higher education budget in the previous fiscal year.
"We don’t have the numbers because the budget hasn’t been actually released," said Ben Levin, Missouri Students Association Legislative Coordinator. "But it’s a lot better than it was last year. It’s a lot better trying to find the bad news in what will be about a $4.5 million increase in higher education funding than finding any glimmers of hope in what was a 13 percent cut (last year)."
"We’re wary, but we’re in a much better place than we were at this point last year, and for that we are thankful," Levin said.
Nixon also allotted more than $75 million for the state's Access and Bright Flight Scholarships as well as $1 million in funding for A+ scholarships.
"This year, we'll help even more Missouri families afford college," Nixon said. "That's been a top priority of mine since day one."
The proposed budget totals $25.7 billion.
The governor proposed an expansion of Medicaid through federal funds, something that was met with applause from the Democratic side of the House Chamber and consternation from the Republican side.
"Strengthening Medicaid will strengthen our economy," Nixon said. "Without question, it's the smart thing to do."
An expanded Medicaid program, Nixon said, would bring a total of $5.7 billion to Missouri over the first three calendar years and would make health care available to 300,000 Missourians. He also said he supported a provision that would roll back Medicaid expansion if the federal government didn't honor its financial commitment to the state.
"If Washington drops the ball, we'll do what's right for Missouri," Nixon said.
Nixon proposed $10 million more for mental health services in the state and a 29 percent increase in funds to provide more resources at domestic violence shelters in the state.
"No mother who has been the victim of domestic violence should ever be turned away and left to fend for themselves during these moments of crisis," Nixon said.
In one of his more forceful moments of the speech, Nixon called on the General Assembly to institute campaign finance reform.
"We must re-institute strict campaign contribution limits," Nixon said. "This year, if the legislature does not send a campaign contribution limit bill to my desk, I will do everything in my power to get it on the ballot and make sure it passes."
Claire Boston contributed to this story.