Democrats Concerned About Education Spending, Healthcare After Gov. Stitt's State Of State Address

Monday, February 4th 2019, 6:29 pm

Governor Kevin Stitt delivered his first ever State of the State address Monday. He also presented a budget proposal to the legislature that includes $182 million more in spending. The governor’s $7.7 billion appropriations proposal includes another raise for teachers. 

But there is a lot missing.

An excited Governor Kevin Stitt presented his state of the state address before a joint session of the legislature.

WATCH: Gov. Stitt’s 1st State Of The State Address: ‘I Ask You To Join Me In Reimaging’

“It’s unbelievable walking in here as governor. I wish y’all could experience this,” said Stitt. 

The plan includes a $1,200 raise for teachers, but no increase in classroom spending. Stitt said that will come later.

“But we must first continue our investment in teachers, because it’s not programs, curriculum or resources that students will remember. The magic happens between the students and the teachers in the classroom,” he said.

Democrats insist, most teachers would rather see more funding for the classroom than a bigger paycheck.

“We put $50 million into common education last session. But we would like to see that number in the hundred million range,” said Representative Emily Virgin (D) House Minority Leader.

The governor also seemed to backpaddle on his discussion last week with the media to consider Medicaid expansion, which could bring in an additional $900 million federal dollars to the state. The governor’s concerned the feds could pull that money.

“You see when Washington D.C. wants to end a program, we are left holding the bag in recovering the costs. While Medicaid currently stops at a 90 percent federal match, we cannot assume that will remain that high forever,” said Stitt.

Senator Kay Floyd (D) Senate Minority Leader responded, “It’s been two years since we’ve had a new president. The federal dollars haven’t dried up. The states that had Medicaid expansion still have Medicaid expansion.”

Representative Virgin added, “We were confused by his comments on healthcare. When you compare those to the comments that he gave to the press just last week when he seemed open to accepting federal money for expansion, today I’m not quite sure what he said.”

The governor also renewed his call to the legislature to allow him to hire and fire agency heads as he pleases. Then, Stitt said, when it comes to agency transparency and accountability, the buck stops with him.

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