Summary of the Missouri State of the State Address
By Stateline Staff
Picking up where he left off a year ago, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon (D) declared Jan. 20 that creating private-sector jobs would be his top priority in the coming year through tax credits, recruitment of high-technology companies and increased job training.
In his first state of the state speech in January 2009, Nixon proposed- and the Legislature approved - a job-creating bill that included $130 million in tax incentives and a tax break for 15,000 small businesses.
This year, Nixon is asking lawmakers to approve a plan that he said would put existing Missouri employers first to receive incentives if they expand locally, while offering separate inducements to out-of-state high technology companies, especially biotechnology firms, to locate in the state. Nixon also proposed expanding job-training programs at Missouri's community colleges. The state's unemployment rate is 9.6 percent, the highest in 26 years.
"It's clear that our key business incentives and workforce investments (from 2009) are bearing fruit," Nixon told a joint session of the General Assembly. "But much more needs to be done."
The Republican-controlled Senate and House stood and applauded when Nixon said, "Let's roll up our sleeves and pass this 2010 jobs plan."
State officials have cut about $600 million from the current budget, and may have to trim as much as $200 million more. The full extent of cuts for the fiscal year that begins July 1 is not known, but Nixon told lawmakers he would probably have to slash K-12 and higher education to balance the budget. The governor also is counting on nearly $1.2 billion in federal stimulus money although the state is still not sure it will receive that amount from Washington. Nixon repeated a pledge made last year to avoid raising taxes.
"We still face very sobering financial challenges," Nixon said, adding that Missouri still has avoided some of the more serious problems of other states such as neighboring Illinois.
Despite the push for private sector jobs, Nixon announced he would have to eliminate 544 state jobs. If approved, the cuts would mean he will have reduced the state workforce by about 1,800 positions.
The governor reiterated his previously announced ethics reform proposal to reinstate Missouri's campaign contribution limits, which voters approved in an initiative in 1994 but lawmakers later repealed. Democrats applauded; Republican lawmakers sat in silence.