Vision and goals for 2006
Last week I had the opportunity to lay out my vision and goals for Missouri for 2006. The state of the state is strong and I look forward to working with members of the General Assembly to continue our efforts to move Missouri forward.
Education will continue to be the number one budget and policy priority of my administration. As a candidate, I promised that every year I am governor we will deliver more dollars to Missouri classrooms. My budget includes $167 million new dollars to our schools fully funding the state's new education funding formula.
The Our Students First initiative that I introduced has generated a much needed discussion about how we can increase dollars for our classrooms. I am open to discussions about how we could ensure your tax dollars make it to the classroom. The goal is to get more dollars to teachers and to students, where they will have the greatest impact.
This year I am proposing a $17.1 million increase for Missouri's universities and colleges. It is vital that our state do what it can to make a college education affordable, because an educated workforce will help strengthen Missouri's improving economy.
Missouri is being viewed as a national leader in healthcare because of our desire and commitment to implement innovative solutions for low-income healthcare.
Any new healthcare program must contain incentives for employers to provide health insurance to employees, tax incentives for individuals purchasing their own insurance, and buying pools for small businesses and individuals to increase their purchasing power. I am creating the Healthcare Information Task Force to recommend ways our state can make better use of technology to meet our healthcare challenges. To help with this I am proposing the creation of a Healthcare Technology Fund to ensure that basic technology is being utilized to improve the delivery of healthcare to all Missourians. It is vital that the legislature send me a bill that respects and safeguards the rights of Missourians to own property.
I am committed to passing good legislation this year to better protect homeowners, family farmers and small business men and women. Last year I signed legislation protecting our children from sex offenders. This year I am proposing new measures to provide even more protection to our children. Missouri must enact a version of Jessica's Law that imposes a life sentence for sex crimes against children with a minimum of 25 years served in prison and lifetime monitoring if released from prison.
I am also proposing a mandatory minimum sentence for sex offenders who use the Internet to prey on our children.
I am asking the General Assembly to pass the Energy and Green Power Initiative, which requires that all fuel sold in Missouri for passenger cars and trucks contain 10 percent ethanol. This initiative will add value to Missouri farmers' crops, while at the same time spurring economic development in rural Missouri. It will provide lower prices at the pumps and greater independence from foreign oil supplies.
In the coming weeks, I will talk about these issues individually and what they mean for you and our state.