JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Here is the text of the Republican response by Missouri House Speaker Tim Jones, as prepared for delivery Monday night, to Gov. Jay Nixon's 2013 State of the State address:
Good evening. Thank you for joining me.
I am Tim Jones, Speaker of your Missouri House, and it is an honor to speak with you tonight.
Last November, the people of Missouri sent record numbers of Republicans to Jefferson City to govern and to advance an ambitious policy agenda, an agenda focused on strengthening our state's economy, reforming our education system, and creating opportunity for all Missourians.
Missourians also gave their support to Governor Nixon, a self-proclaimed independent, fiscal conservative who has proudly reaffirmed his intention to work with Republicans to keep tax burdens low, government small, and the bureaucratic red tape to a minimum.
It was a governor our state rarely saw during his first term in office, but after seeing his newfound approach to governance, I am cautiously optimistic about working with him in the years ahead.
Moments ago, you heard the governor outline HIS priorities for the upcoming year.
While some of the common ground with Republicans he discussed on the campaign trail is still there, many of his new proposals, ones that would create a bigger, more intrusive government bureaucracy threaten to create a chasm that no amount of bipartisanship can bridge.
And in the past, as in tonight, the Governor has articulated grand concepts but provided little detail.
Many in the legislature, on both sides of the aisle, are concerned about the governor's pattern of retreating behind rhetoric instead of leading and engaging with us to find solutions.
So I challenge the governor, for the good of all Missourians, to break from his past pattern of ivory tower executive isolation, roll up his sleeves and work with us to find common ground.
I welcome his participation.
In the months ahead, Republican leadership in the House and Senate will work with the governor on the issues the people of Missouri entrusted us to address when they elected us to office.
We have profound differences but we will focus on the places where we may find agreement.
Areas like the critical task of improving our state's aging and failing infrastructure.
We must work together to make sure our roads and bridges, the essential transportation routes vital to economic development, are maintained, repaired and, when necessary, rebuilt.
We also believe it is important to review the effectiveness of our existing state programs, including Missouri's 61 tax credit programs.
Many of these programs accomplish a worthwhile goal, but oversight and accountability are required.
We will eliminate the credits that do not work, cap programs at a reasonable level to provide budget certainty, and ensure that taxpayers are protected.
And if the Governor's leadership is absent, as it has been many times over the past four years, or when the proposals he pushes are radically different from the campaign promises he made, we will not hesitate to use our historic majorities that the people entrusted us with to pursue our agenda to reform and transform our state.
A prime example is the governor's call to expand the welfare state by adding 300,000 Missourians to the Medicaid roles.
It's a call that has come courtesy of Obamacare and Washington, D.C. It's a call the Republican-led legislature will not answer.
Eight years ago, Republican leadership made the difficult but desperately needed decision to reign in a welfare system that was growing at an unsustainable rate.
It was a decision that saved the state billions of dollars and staved off almost certain bankruptcy.
Today we are faced with a similar decision.
On one side we have a governor and a federal government that believes bigger government is the answer.
They want to take us down a fiscally irresponsible path that will saddle future generations of Missourians with a bill they cannot afford.
It's a path Republicans will not follow.
Why should we pour billions of dollars of your hard-earned tax money into a broken system? That would defy basic economic sense.
We will not follow the lead of out-of-touch bureaucrats whose reckless spending has pushed our nation to the brink of financial disaster.
Instead, Republican leadership will propose a plan to transform our Medicaid system, to repair a broken system so that it works as intended by providing quality care to the neediest Missourians.
Republicans have always stood for providing opportunity to those who are truly in need. And that is where your hard earned tax dollars should be spent.
Our commitment is to stay true to the will of the people who have consistently voted with large majorities against the economy-crippling provisions of Obamacare, to find ways to keep the size of government small and to steer our state away from the same kind of fiscal cliff our federal government cannot seem to avoid.
We also call on Governor Nixon to stand in support of the many Missouri hospitals that provide care to the un- and underinsured.
The federal government's decision to cut the dish payments that reimburse hospitals for the care they offer is one that we must oppose together.
This ploy by the White House to force the hands of states like ours to expand Medicaid must be rejected, and we must develop a Missouri solution that will allow hospitals to continue to provide care, one that doesn't require a massive expansion of government that Missouri taxpayers simply cannot afford.
Instead of adding more bloat to the bureaucracy, our efforts this year must focus on strengthening Missouri's economy, a goal that requires both short-term and long-term solutions.
In the short-term, we can improve our business climate and attract new employers and new jobs by making Missouri's employment law standards comparable to national standards.
Over the past several years, Missouri's courts have made misguided rulings that have created uncertainty in our legal environment.
The result is that compliance is now more difficult for existing employers, and potential businesses are discouraged from setting up shop in a state where frivolous lawsuits are far too common.
It is time to put Missouri employers on a level playing field with their competitors around the country, to provide certainty in the legal system that allows businesses to focus on growing their businesses, creating jobs rather than worrying about unnecessary lawsuits.
We also must work to protect one of our largest employers in Missouri — the health care industry.
It is critical that we correct a misguided court decision that opens the door for endless lawsuits with unlimited damages, a decision that will drive doctors out of the state, destroy jobs and reduce Missourians' access to care.