JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Gov. Jay Nixon said Friday that reorganizing Missouri's environmental regulatory agency will be among his priorities next year, and indicated he wouldn't back down from trying to expand Medicaid even though Republicans control the Legislature.
Nixon, a Democrat and the first governor to win re-election since 1996, said during an interview with The Associated Press that he wants to focus on initiatives that could have a long-term impact. He said that includes focusing on government efficiency, education and economic development.
The governor wants to consolidate some of the nearly two dozen commissions within the Department of Natural Resources. That, he said, could streamline the process for businesses and individuals to move forward on projects without inhibiting efforts to keep the state's air and water clean.
Nixon said he expects additional proposals in coming months from a government efficiency initiative he launched after his re-election in November. The effort is led by his chief of staff and policy director.
"We're always working to run government better, make it more efficient and more effective," he said.
Nixon also reiterated his support for expanding Medicaid, which already has caused friction with Republicans who now hold supermajorities in both the House and Senate. Such a majority means that if Republican lawmakers stick together, they have enough votes to override any veto.
The governor has said he supports expanding Medicaid for adults earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level — which equates to $15,415 for an individual or $26,344 for a family of three — as allowed under the federal health care law. He argues that it is the right and smart thing to do.
Republicans contend neither the state nor the country can afford the expansion, and House Speaker Tim Jones earlier this month called it "economically reckless."
On Friday, Nixon said expanding Medicaid would be a collaborative effort involving health care providers, recipients, business groups and legislators.