Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens says he has already answered questions about his recent affair, allegations about blackmail and the potential for law enforcement involvement.
Instead, the governor wants to focus on his recent budget plan and potential tax cuts for Missourians.
Greitens spoke about his first year in office and future plans at a luncheon Thursday for the Missouri Press Association and covered a wide variety of topics, including his record so far.
Many lawmakers in his own party have criticized Greitens for not working closely enough with the Legislature and the recent scandal has further hurt his standing.
After the affair and allegations were made public, Greitens personally called lawmakers to apologize and shore up relations, but many lawmakers held his feet to the fire while others didn’t answer his call.
The Missourian asked Greitens if the lack of support from the Legislature has or will hinder his agenda.
“Our record speaks for itself,” Greitens said. “We are really proud of what we have accomplished this year and we are excited to see how people are responding to our agenda. There is good work being done.”
One of the successes Greitens touted was an overhaul of the Missouri Veterans Commission after complaints about conditions at veterans homes in St. Louis and Mexico.
“We replaced all of the members we had the power to,” Greitens said. “We also replaced the director.”
Greitens added he is committed to strengthening the state’s National Guard and it will be adding 800 new jobs to the ranks.
In addition, the current guard members will begin joint training with Israeli Defense Forces in the fields of disaster response, anti-terrorism and response to chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear attacks.
Greitens said he is hopeful from what he is hearing regarding transportation funding that may be coming from the federal level, and at the state level he has added $163 million into the state budget this year for transportation.
He also announced the creation of a $25 million jobs and infrastructure fund, which could be used as matching funds for communities with transportation-related projects.
The governor also touted an $87 million increase in K through 12 funding in the upcoming budget and justified lowering the funds going to higher education.
He added his administration is working with the University of Missouri and thus far the university system has found cuts to save the state about $70 million.
“There is still $6 million in higher education scholarships,” Greitens said. “We prioritized 11-year-olds over 20-year-olds.”
Overall, the governor said his focus is to do what’s best for Missouri’s younger students and is open to any options to improve their education.
“I’m for whatever works for kids,” Greitens said. “If it works for kids, I’ll embrace it.”