Special Legislative Sessions to Focus on Jobs
By John Gramlich, Staff Writer
Congress may be focused on deficit reduction, but job creation is driving the political discourse in the states, just as it has all year. Two states, Connecticut and Missouri, may take the unusual step of calling special legislative sessions in an effort to put more of their residents to work.
Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy is pursuing a "nonpartisan" session on job creation, The Connecticut Mirror reports . Malloy, a Democrat, says he wants to overcome the partisan finger-pointing that marked the end of the regular legislative session in June, and he believes economic development is the issue with which he can do it.
"Nobody has disagreed with the concept: A demonstration of a non-partisan commitment to growing Connecticut's economy," the governor's chief of staff tells The Mirror . Malloy has not laid out dates or specific legislative proposals for the session, but with Connecticut labor unions ending a long-drawn standoff with his administration over employee concessions, he presumably will have more time to set an agenda.
In Missouri, the political parties are pointing fingers at one another, but not in the way most observers would expect: They are both claiming credit for coming up with the idea of a special session on jobs in the first place, The Kansas City Star reported last month .
Regardless of which side came up with the idea, Missouri lawmakers are considering a range of actions, according to The Star : "Those proposals include new tools aimed at making the Missouri side of the state line more competitive with Kansas when it comes to attracting businesses, $360 million in tax credits to build a cargo hub at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport, initiatives to spark growth in high-tech industries, and a plan to slash spending on historic preservation and low-income housing tax-credit programs."
No date has been set for the Missouri special session, but Republicans who control the legislature are demanding that Democratic Governor Jay Nixon call one soon.
Stateline noted in an analysis of the governors' "state of the state" speeches earlier this year that job creation was by far the top priority being talked about by the chief executives. That has not changed, as daily news headlines make clear. California Governor Jerry Brown, for instance, announced the appointment of a jobs czar. Texas Governor Rick Perry has used his state 's strong track record on jobs to launch a closely watched presidential bid. Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton announced that he would launch a statewide tour this week to get residents' thoughts on job creation, calling it his " number one priority for the rest of my term ."
At the federal level, President Obama last week went on his own tour of the Midwest to hear Americans' concerns about jobs, and he is planning to announce new economic development proposals next month. Congress, however, remains focused on the deficit and on dramatically cutting federal spending, which, as many state officials point out, could complicate their own strategies for economic growth.