Nixon Calls for Medicaid Expansion, Campaign Finance Reform

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JEFFERSON CITY - Gov. Jay Nixon reiterated his support for expanding Medicaid in his State of the State address Monday night.

Nixon called expanding the program "a smart business decision" and "the right thing to do."

Nixon said he would push for reforms to state ethics laws regarding elections. Specific actions he mentioned included curbing committee-to-committee transfers and banning office holders from doubling as paid political consultants. He was most passionate about enacting campaign contribution limits, threatening to put a contribution limit measure on the ballot if the legislature does not pass one.

In the Republican response to the speech, House Speaker Tim Jones, R-Eureka, questioned Nixon's committment to higher education. He said Nixon had cut higher education funding in recent years, adding the legislature had restored such funding. Jones said Republicans would not expand Medicaid, calling the program broken. He did not address the governor's campaign finance proposals.

Nixon and Jones agreed, at least in principle, on the subject of tax credits. Nixon called for a "comprehensive, fiscally responsible tax credit reform" in his address. Jones similarly called for eliminating tax credits that don't work and capping other ones.

The two men also made similar calls for improved mental health resources in the aftermath of mass shootings like the one at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Nixon called for $10 million for services such as mental health first aid training and mental health crisis intervention training for law enforcement. Jones similarly called for better access and funding for mental health.

In addition to the aforementioned sum, Nixon proposed using funding from the proposed bond issue to build a new Fulton State Mental Hospital. Other ideas Nixon had for the bond issue include a low-interest loan fund for local schools, university research facilities and improvements in state parks.