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Covering state lawmakers, bills, and policy emerging from Jefferson City.

Nixon Slams Republican Agenda, Calls for Actions to "Move State Forward" in Jackson Day Speech

Photo credit: Jeremy Shreckhise, KSMU

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon believes there’s still hope for expanding Medicaid in the state, and feels that voters will strike down “right-to-work” legislation if the issue makes it onto the ballot. KSMU’s Scott Harvey has more on the Governor’s keynote address as part of the annual Jackson Day Celebration.

Speaking before his fellow Democrats in Springfield Saturday night, Nixon pointed to the states with Republican governors that have chosen to expand Medicaid eligibility under President Barack Obama’s health care law. He says “giving the taxpayers what they deserve and spending Missouri dollars here in Missouri is a better way to do it.”

Nixon says the amount that citizens have paid in federal taxes that are being used to expand Medicaid in other states continues to climb. On Thursday, he was in West Plains to announce that figure had gone over $500 million.

“That’s the amount of taxes you and I pay to Washington, D.C. already this year since Jan. 1 that’s being spent in other states to improve their access to health care,” Nixon said.

Nixon’s visit to Ozarks Medical Center, which recently laid off 32 workers citing the sequester and the legislature’s rejection of Medicaid expansion, was also intended to signify the ramifications of not increasing the Medicaid rolls. He said Saturday that standing still on the issue will move the state backwards.

He added that right now in Missouri, if you don’t have much money, the best way to get health care is to quit your job.

“That’s not our value as Democrats, that’s not our value as a state. And we’ve got the opportunity right now to save 300,000 working Missourians if they’re gonna have access to health care. That is the smart and the right thing to do and because of this money that’s being spent in other states right now it’s also really real. Smart, right, and it is real.”

He added that the momentum for Medicaid expansion is building, and called last week’s debate on the Senate floor between Republicans Ryan Silvey and John Lamping “illuminating.” Silvey, who wants to expand Medicaid, says it can be done without busting the budget, while Lamping believes lawmakers need to stand firm against anything stemming from Obama's health care law.

The Governor also addressed “right-to-work” legislation, which has been a top priority of Republicans this session. Several bills have bill filed concerning the issue in the House, each mandating that workers cannot be required to "engage or cease engaging in" labor organization practices as a condition of employment. While Nixon plans to veto the legislation if it makes it to his desk, one RTW bill would put the issue to voters in the fall. The Governor believes voters will defeat it, like they did in 1978, to which Nixon said “It was a rip-off then and it’s a rip-off now.”

Nixon also discussed what he’s repeatedly called a fiscally irresponsible experiment. SB 509, a $620 million income tax cut bill was passed last week. The Governor have vetoed similar legislation following the 2013 legislative session, which he says  would undermine the state’s ability to support K-12 and higher education.  Nixon says $620 million is almost equal to the amount of money it would take to fully fund the state’s foundation formula plus the total he recommended for higher education in next year’s budget.

This was the 94th annual Jackson Day Celebration. In February, Missouri Republicans gathered in Springfield for their annual Lincoln Days event.