Missouri House Speaker Tim Jones, R-Eureka, delivered the Republican response to State of the State address.
The following is a transcript of his remarks, provided by Missouri GOP Communications:
Good evening. I am Tim Jones, Speaker of your Missouri House of Representatives. I am honored to speak with you tonight regarding a bold vision for the future of our state.
Moments ago, you heard our governor share his proposals for the direction our state should take. While his speech was rousing in rhetoric, it was short on substantive solutions.
We have heard similar speeches over the past six years, but despite the governor's promises we have yet to see him deliver real-world results that will move our state in a better direction. Our governor mistakenly believes that more, bigger government is the answer, that his administration can decide how to better use your tax dollars, and that investments should be made in government programs rather than in the industrious people of this state.
What our governor should understand is that we already have too many tax-and-overspend, out-of-touch, career politicians in our nation's capital. We don't need one here standing in the way of hard-working Missouri families and businesses who want nothing more than the opportunity to grow and succeed.
This is the message I have heard from Missourians as I have traveled throughout our vast abundant state and listened directly to them. The people of Missouri believe that more government is not the answer, it is the problem.
In Joplin, I met with the owner and employees of Employer Advantage to discuss their highly-successful business that is helping more than 500 business owners. I was excited to see a Missouri company experiencing such success, but equally amazed that their business exists because of a federal government that has buried employers under reams of red tape. You see, Employer Advantage helps other businesses navigate through the endless maze of government bureaucracy. It is proof yet again that government is too big and too burdensome, that it is in fact a roadblock to the kind of growth and opportunity we want in Missouri.
In Clarence, I visited the Chinn Family Farm where I saw firsthand what this farm family accomplishes every day for Missouri agriculture. During my visit, the Chinn's shared with me their frustration with the burdensome regulations that take up far too much of their time. When we think of farming we envision working the soil, tractors in the field, and rows of crops, but what we don't see are the workers in the office filling out endless government forms. Again, rather than creating a level playing field, government creates mountains of paperwork as a barrier to progress.
In Kansas City I met with business leaders who described how we are losing the battle for businesses and jobs to our neighbor to the west. Repeating the theme that I heard over and over during my travels, they told me how government has not given them the low-tax, low regulation business environment necessary to keep and attract the kinds of family-supporting jobs Missourians need. As a result they have watched business after business cross state line road to relocate to a state that emphasizes a more pro-jobs, pro-growth approach.
Across Missouri, the message is the same - people want a smaller, more accountable government, a lower tax burden, and less regulatory burdens. These are individuals and business owners that want government to reduce and eliminate barriers to growth, who want the freedom to work without coercion and who desire a level playing field in our courthouses.
Sadly, as you heard tonight, our governor is not listening to the people who elected him. Instead he wants to take a page right out of the Washington, D.C. playbook. He wants more of your hard-earned tax dollars so that he can increase spending and grow the size of government. He wants to pick winners and losers through budget games and centralized planning and not helps the truly needy. We want to import jobs and opportunity for all into our state while our governor wants to import D.C.-style taxation, D.C-based budgeting, and D.C.-inspired overspending. We will not allow this to happen on our watch.
The people of Missouri elected record majorities of Republicans to lead, and that is what we will do. Working together with colleagues on both sides of the aisle, we will advance policies designed to provide growth and opportunity for all Missourians; that will guarantee access to a great education for our children; that will help our state generate affordable and abundant energy; and that will allow us to guard and protect the values and beliefs our citizens hold sacred.
We will work hard to pass the first significant tax reform our state has seen in nearly 100 years. A lower tax burden will provide our citizens and businesses with the economic freedom to grow. You, the people of Missouri, know better how to spend your hard-earned dollars than the government. It is a policy that has produced explosive growth in states across the country; placing more money back in the hands of taxpayers and creating growth and opportunity for all. This pro-growth policy is even being pursued by democrat controlled states, one of which is offering ten-years; tax free, to businesses that relocate there! It is time for our governor to understand what Missourians know: reducing tax burdens creates growth and prosperity for all.
Many states surrounding us have also successfully reigned in the rising costs of health care by instituting much-needed medical malpractice reform. This year we have the opportunity to follow their lead by ending our punitive litigation culture, and to place the focus of health care back on research, innovation and access to quality care rather than on legal defense funds. It is time we have a system that welcomes patients and great doctors instead of driving them away.
One of the best policies we can promote is giving people the right to pursue their dreams and their own economic freedom, to be masters of their own destiny. 24 states have empowered their workers and given them the ultimate freedom to make their own choices; to be free to join whatever organizations they want and to spend their-hard earned wages as they see fit. We owe it to Missouri workers to give them those same choices. We should join the states that are increasing their populations, adding union and non-union jobs faster than we have in decades and increasing the spending power of their citizens. For true growth and opportunity Missouri should become the 25 th state for worker freedom and choice.
To ensure a knowledgeable workforce, we must have a public education system that provides a world-class education to our most precious treasure, our children, regardless of their zip code or place of birth. We must provide every district in our state the tools to ensure that effective teaching is the number one priority. We must fund our public education system appropriately at all levels and then hold school administrators accountable for the billions of taxpayer dollars that they receive each year. And we must put an end to the governor's practice of cutting backroom deals that provide higher levels of funding to some areas of our system of education while neglecting others. It is time for true transparency and accountability in the way our system of education is funded.
We must embrace responsible energy policies that will encourage affordable energy prices. Missouri generates more than 80 percent of its base-load energy from coal, which means we must do all we can to safeguard our natural resources. Our manufacturers, our farmers, our business owners and every family continue to rely on Missouri's abundant, affordable energy. By incorporating an "all of the above" energy strategy, energy independence is possible and not a distant goal.
The legislature will continue the fight for smaller, more efficient government that will empower the people of Missouri. Together with the Senate, we will continue to push back against the over-reaching hands of the federal government and the continued attempts by our executive branch to violate the privacy rights of Missouri citizens. Whether it is protecting our generational right to farm, pushing back against unlawful and egregious actions by our state departments and agencies and holding them accountable, or protecting our devotion to life and the rights guaranteed to us by all the amendments that we cherish in our country's and state's constitution, we owe it to all Missourians to protect the values, rights and freedoms that they hold dear.
All of these ideas will move Missouri in a better direction by providing the people of our state with the opportunity to grow and prosper. They will level the playing field, move government out of the way, and provide families, farmers, workers and business owners with the freedom they need to succeed. These are not revolutionary, untested policies. They are tried-and-true methods that the states around us have benefited from for years now. It is time for Missouri to do the same.
We will however need our governor to work with us rather than against us. Just as the people of this state need government to stop erecting barriers to progress, we need our governor to stop standing in our way as we work tear these roadblocks down.
We need a governor who will work with us to provide the substantive tax relief that people and businesses want rather than one who relentlessly fights against lowering your tax burden, and uses your tax dollars to do it.
We need a governor who will engage with us to improve our system of education rather than one who calls for funding increases only to withhold millions of dollars in funding from our schools each and every year. This governor must stop using our children as his political pawns.
We need a governor who will stand in support of our efforts to strengthen your rights rather than one whose administration violated your trust by releasing the private information of more than 163,000 law-abiding Missourians to the federal government.
This is a governor who has rarely engaged in the hard work of governing. It was only during our recent efforts to bring thousands of new jobs to our state that the governor gave us a glimpse of what he can do when he focuses his efforts on policy issues rather than press conferences and political speeches. I would like to work with that governor again; not on policies for the few, but on bold reforms that will benefit every family and every business in our state.
The people of this state deserve a government that works to level the playing field and remove barriers so workers and businesses can do what they do best create growth and opportunity for all. This is the year we must work together to make this goal a reality.
Thank you for sharing a few moments of your time with me tonight to discuss our vision for our state.
May God bless you, and may God continue to bless the Great State of Missouri.