Legislators returned to Jefferson City to begin the 2012 session on January 4, and the state’s continuing budget challenge was the main topic of discussion. Leaders of both the Senate and House are beginning their final session in office and both gave opening-day remarks that outlined priorities of the majority party. Leaders from both parties also met with reporters following the speeches to answer questions and discuss more details of proposals.
Senate President Pro-tem Robert Mayer (R-Dexter), presided over the opening session of the Senate. He emphasized the importance of passing a balanced budget without a tax increase and protecting funding for education. Mayer also outlined several priority initiatives related to economic development and government accountability. His remarks can be read here .
House Speaker Steven Tilley (R-Perryville), delivered his final opening day address as well. He outlined what he called his “Blueprint for Missouri” that includes a taxpayer protection amendment and a number of changes designed to create an economic climate that encourages job growth. He also emphasized his commitment to funding education.Tilley’s remarks can be read here .
Bills filed thus far during the session are in the process of being referred to committees, with hearings expected to begin next week. Readers can keep up with new bills filed by going to the Senate  or House  web sites.
House Speaker Steve Tilley (R-Perryville) (center) speaks to reporters about the House Republican priorities for the upcoming session.
December revenue numbers and Governor’s State of the State announced
The state’s budget director, Linda Luebbering, announced that FY 2012 general revenue collections to date increased 1.2 percent over the same period in FY 2011. Net general revenue collections for the month of December 2011, however, decreased 2.1 percent compared to December 2010.
Director Luebbering also noted that the state’s General Revenue Fund borrowed $75 million for cash flow purposes from a Budget Reserve Fund. According to the Missouri Constitution, these funds must be repaid by May 15th of this year.
In related news, the Governor announced that he will deliver his State of the State address to a joint session of the General Assembly on Tuesday, January 17th at 7:00 p.m. At that time, the Governor will outline his proposed budget for fiscal year 2013 and his legislative priorities for the year.
Governor Nixon makes appointments to UM Board of Curators and Coordinating Board
On January 4, Governor Jay Nixon appointed Amy Johnson as the student representative to the Board of Curators. Johnson is a junior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and is majoring in biology. She replaces outgoing student representative Laura Confer. Johnson’s term will end January 1, 2014. Johnson will now need Senate confirmation to begin her term. Nixon has also appointed Pam Henrickson and Craig Van Matre to the Board, both of whom must also receive Senate approval.
Nixon also appointed Brian Fogle of Springfield to the Coordinating Board for Higher Education. The nine-member board oversees the activities of the Missouri Department of Higher Education. Fogle is the president and CEO of the Community Foundation of the Ozarks. Fogle was appointed for a term that ends June 27, 2012.
Governor Nixon’s appointments to the Boards can be found here .