Gov. Blunt outlines his policies for 2007
January 25, 2007
JEFFERSON CITY – In his third State of the State address, Gov. Matt Blunt outlined his principles for a new health care program for low income Missourians called MO HealthNet, pushed for education increases for the third year in a row and called for an end to cuts in Social Security. Blunt reported to Missouri that the state of the state is strong, prosperous and vibrant, but stressed that more must be done.

“I have traveled all across this great state,” Blunt said. “I have talked with Missourians and I have listened. The people are asking us to continue moving the state forward, and their will should guide our efforts.”

In the speech, Blunt proposed a new health care system called MO HealthNet to replace the old Medicaid system. The Blunt plan would provide low income Missourians with greater access to health care, better health care and choice in health care.

“HealthNet will give Missourians meaningful choices,” said Blunt. “It will empower them to be participants rather than just recipients. The old Medicaid was about sickness. The new HealthNet will be about prevention and wellness. With HealthNet, for the first time in Missouri history we will guarantee that every participant has access to primary and preventative care.”

Blunt’s MO HealthNet plan will also expand health care coverage to the employed disabled and will cover foster children until they are 21. Currently, foster children are only eligible for benefits until their 18th birthday. Blunt’s plan will also allow more children to be eligible for health coverage under the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP).

Blunt also unveiled a six point plan to help cover the uninsured by combining resources, offering tax incentives to employers who provide health care to their workers, improving laws so that Missourians can take their insurance with them when they switch jobs, pooling the purchasing power of the uninsured to help them buy insurance at a reasonable cost, allow employers and employees to pay insurance premiums with tax free dollars and launch an initiative for the uninsured for which he has committed $20 million.

As Missouri’s governor, Blunt has kept his promise to make education his highest priority. He outlined his proposal to increase education funding for the third year in a row.

“Working together we already have invested $332 million new dollars in elementary and secondary schools,” said Blunt. “This year, I am calling for $214 million additional dollars for our classrooms, bringing the total increase in funding for Missouri’s kindergartens, elementary and high schools to more than half a billion dollars in the last three years.”

The governor highlighted his support for tax relief for Missourians, including his support for House Speaker Rod Jetton’s legislation to end the Social Security tax which cuts benefits for seniors.

“Let us stop the cut and allow Missouri seniors to keep the Social Security they have earned. I urge you to take up, pass, and allow me to sign Speaker Jetton’s legislation to stop cutting people’s Social Security,” Blunt said.

Blunt also outlined a plan to cut the franchise tax for employers who provide health insurance to their workers and proposed raising the deduction for long-term care insurance from 50 to 100 percent.

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The full text of the governor's in may be found here.

For the text of Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon's Democratic response to the governor's speech, go here.

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