The Maneater

Nixon ‘optimistic’ in State of the State address

Nixon used his last address to praise progress and unveil his suggested budget.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon took his last State of the State address Jan. 20 to tout the economy in the state and encourage further advancement in many programs.

Speaking from the chamber of the House of Representatives in Jefferson City, Nixon touched on Missouri industries from tourism to agriculture to the motor industry. He also presented his recommended budget for fiscal year 2017 to the general assembly.

“New business creation declined in 39 states,” Nixon said. “Missouri bucked that trend with a dramatic increase in startups.”

He reinfored his belief that every student should have the opportunity to receive Missouri’s A+ Scholarship.

He also noted that GDP has increased over his tenure, home prices have risen and personal income has grown. He also took time to praise the growing tourism industry in Missouri, which he hopes to invest $3 million into promoting next year.

Nixon said his budget invests $400,000 more in K-12 education than when he came into office. He described how important advancing education is at all levels, and how he hopes to invest an additional $56 million in the state’s higher education and freeze tuition at universities for the 2016-17 school year.

“The best way to secure our future is to invest in the people who will lead it — the next generation,” Nixon said.

Nixon called on the General Assembly to pass the Missouri Nondiscrimination Act, which would make it illegal to discriminate in housing, employment and public accommodations based on one’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

“No one should be discriminated against because of who they love,” Nixon said. “We’ve come a long way on this issue, but there is more to be done. It is unacceptable that Missourians can still be fired for being gay. That’s wrong, it’s not who we are — and it must change.”

His endorsement of MONA earned Nixon praise from Promoting Equality for All Missourians, an advocacy group for the LGBTQ community, and the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri.

“We are grateful to have a governor who proactively speaks out and works to ensure that all hardworking Missourians, including those who are gay or transgender, have the opportunity to work, live, and provide for their families,” Steph Perkins, Interim Executive Director of PROMO, said in a statment.

His proposed budget also sets aside nearly $200 million for services regarding developmental disabilities and mental illness and 1.8 million more for veterans homes. He also encouraged more affordable childcare for low-income families and extended parental leave for state employees, saying “We need to strengthen all families.” The Women’s Foundation CEO Wendy Doyle said in a statement that she is “proud” of the work that has been done to advance women’s issues in the workplace.

In closing, Nixon stated that in his time serving Missouri, he has learned that diversity is a strength to the state and the difference between politics and public service.

“Politics is a horse race, but the stakes are much higher than winning the election,” Nixon said. “The real prize is the opportunity to make life better — for people you don’t know and may never meet. And I am profoundly grateful that the people of Missouri have given me that high honor.” Nixon said he appreciates the effort that has been put forward to set aside partisan agendas in order to move the state forward.

“Do we have more work to do? Of course,” he said. “But look where we are now. I am optimistic about our future.”

Edited by Hailey Stolze | hstolze@themaneater.com

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