Nixon proposes ‘modest’ budget with more education money

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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon is urging lawmakers to embrace policies that "foster healing and hope" following civil unrest that erupted over the fatal police shooting of a black 18-year-old in Ferguson.

Nixon used his annual State of the State address Wednesday to acknowledge that the death of Michael Brown focused the nation's attention on Missouri this past year.

He said too many people feel they need to choose sides between teenagers and police or blacks and whites, but real change is only possible "when we stand together."

The Democratic governor was speaking to a legislature dominated by Republicans with whom he has often been at odds.

He also outlined a budget that seeks funding increases for public schools, though they are not as large as some education groups would like.

Gov. Nixon said he is asking for relatively few funding increases in his $26 billion budget proposal for next fiscal year.

State budget director Linda Luebbering calls the budget 'modest' and says the state is recovering after revenues fell significantly short of expectations last year.

Nixon's proposed budget includes a $50 million increase in basic aid for public schools and $12 million more for performance-based funding for public colleges and universities. He's also asking lawmakers to approve more money for services to people with disabilities and programs to help the aging.

The Democratic governor said even more could be spent on education and other programs if lawmakers would approve several measures that could enhance revenues, including an expansion of Medicaid. Republican lawmakers have previously declined to do that.