Last year, Kansas enacted sweeping tax reforms that made their state extremely attractive to business and upheld their medical malpractice protections for their health care industry.
These are the latest shots in what has been a prolonged — and very successful — effort to poach Missouri companies and Missouri jobs — the ongoing economic "border war."
And if we do not respond to these very real threats, the war could turn into a rout.
So we must immediately review our tax code and enact fiscally-responsible policies that ensure we remain competitive with our neighboring states.
We must also begin to take steps to secure our future.
We must protect our state's education funding and give parents, teachers, and school boards the tools they need to ensure the Missourians of today are prepared for the jobs of tomorrow.
It would be shortsighted and irresponsible for Missouri's leaders to place the temporary benefits of entitlement funding ahead of lasting benefits of education, yet that is exactly what Governor Nixon has done over the past several years.
With each speech he has made, the governor has promised the people of Missouri that he will put education first.
But as his rhetoric has been replaced with reality, Missourians have seen just how empty his promises are.
Each year it has been the legislature that has shown real leadership on the vital issue of education.
In each of the last three years, we've sent the governor budgets that placed an emphasis on funding both K-12 and higher education.
Each year, he has responded by withholding millions of dollars from our schools.
It was last year the governor asked us to take our funding for K-12 education to record levels, which we did.
At the same time, he asked that funding once again be cut for higher education.
The legislature, despite an incredibly difficult budget, made a commitment to not only provide record levels of funding to our elementary and secondary education system, but also to reverse the $106 million cut the governor had proposed for our colleges and universities.
And how did the governor respond to our decision?
By withholding more than $9 million, effectively cutting higher education funding for a third straight year.
And yet, despite his claims that these cuts had to be made to balance the budget, he was able to find nearly $6 million of your tax money to buy a brand new plane.
Pledging your commitment to our children and then failing to support them flies in the face of good governance and leadership.
Missouri children, our future leaders, deserve more.
When it comes to leadership on the issue of education, Governor Nixon has been absent and actively worked against the legislature's efforts to invest in what he claims is his top priority.
What's worse, this has happened at a time when Missouri's two largest school districts are failing, as our universities are struggling to find ways to prepare our young people for the jobs of the future.
Our children, whether they are born in Springfield, St Louis or Sedalia, Kansas City, Camdenton or Cape, Poplar Bluff, Palmyra or anywhere in between, deserve access to the highest quality education.
But our schools will not be able to provide this level of education if their funding is consistently slashed to the bone to fund an ever-increasing, bloated entitlement system full of waste, fraud and abuse.
Our antiquated, overly bureaucratic system is the antithesis of innovation and excellence.
Teachers should be rewarded for their performance and encouraged to boldly engage in the technological innovation that will create the highly-skilled workforce of tomorrow that we so desperately need.
Finally, we must work to ensure that parents are provided the opportunity to be involved in their children's education.
Education cannot just begin and end at the schoolhouse door.
It must continue at home, and parents should take an active role in ensuring their children are learning what they need to succeed.
This can be accomplished by providing parents more power to intervene in failing school districts and force the necessary changes to ensure access to an effective education.
This year we also must work to improve and better fund our system of mental health.
Families across Missouri and across our great nation continue to mourn the loss of the young people at Sandy Hook Elementary who were so tragically taken from us, our thoughts and prayers continue to be with those families who suffered through this difficult time, but the solution to prevent such tragedies from happening again in the future does not involve trampling on the Second Amendment rights of our citizens.
Instead, we must place an emphasis on creating a mental health system that makes care accessible and effective, so that those who might do us harm have the opportunity to receive the kind of help that can put them on a path to triumph rather than tragedy.
You can count on Republicans to develop policy solutions that will protect your children-but also protect your rights as Americans.
You sent us to Jefferson City for results, and Republicans in the General Assembly are committed to leading a government worthy of the citizens it serves.
Whether it is education innovation or labor reform, saving our healthcare industry or balancing our budget with fairness and equity, the truth has no agenda and the challenges before us shall require bold leadership and transformational ideas.
And if our governor is not up to the demands these times require, your General Assembly is prepared to provide the leadership that is so desperately needed.
While our counterparts in DC may believe that government has all the answers and that bigger government is better, here in Missouri we believe that government is not the ruler of the people, it is the people who should rule over their government. Only then will all the people find the freedom and opportunity that will lead them to prosperity.
In the coming months, I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Senate, and I hope to work successfully with Governor Nixon, to achieve the vision I have outlined this evening — restoring our infrastructure, strengthening our education system, and creating a job-friendly pro-growth business environment.
Together, we can achieve these goals, and create a better future, full of opportunity for all Missourians.
A place where future generations work, raise their families, and are proud to call home.
Thank you for listening this evening.
May God bless you, and may God continue to bless the Great State of Missouri.