NIXON'S WEEK 21 GRADE: B -
Anytime a Governor gets to sign his chief legislative initiative into law, he's probably had a pretty good week. Gov. Nixon got to dot the i's on an economic development bill that expands the pool of tax credits the state can give to businesses to help lure them here. He also acknowledged that "I don't think we're done," when it comes to tax credit reform, clearly signaling that the debate over how this money should be used is far from settled. How long Nixon gets to show tangible direct results from the big jobs bill is unclear, especially since so may Republicans signed on to the measure. Speaking of the economy, how about all those Democratic quotes Chad Livengood had in his story questioning Nixon's use of federal stimulus money for tax rebates. Sen. Claire McCaskill and Rep. Ike Skelton don't seem to approve of Nixon's move either. But if the Republicans had to run against Nixon later this year, you'd likely soon see a television ad lambasting the Governor for "promising reform," but instead is rewarding "political contributors." (We're talking about those fee offices.) The GOP pointed to Susan Montee's ex-husband this week as the latest example. He's a major Democratic donor, and he won the bid to operate a lucrative license office in Lee's Summit. But he's also promising to return about 8 percent to the state. There are other examples out there, and the GOP will have their eyes wide open for more evidence of "pay to play." But this is also a tact Kenny Hulshof attempted to use against Nixon, and voters didn't seem to care much. Does anyone outside of politicos even care who runs the offices as long as it is done well? The story the Nixon administration has to worry about is when some reporter digs though all the re-bids and calculates how many new operators are Democratic contributors. Nixon may be very well attempting to make the process more transparent, but in politics, perception is reality. And when a "Montee" wins the bid, some old codger in Henry County is scratching his head, saying "politics as usual." Still, for now, team Nixon is probably more focused on job numbers than fee offices.