Sunday, October 25, 2009

Week 41: Nixon's Grade


Jobs became the central theme of Gov. Nixon's agenda last week. First, the news that the Department of Natural Resources would trim 100 jobs from the parks division; then, a swing through community colleges to assess what they need to train tomorrow's workforce when companies begin hiring again. With Missouri's unemployment rate hovering around 9.5%, there is no more urgent task at hand for Nixon. Vocational and technical education aren't as sexy as the traditional programs at the University of Missouri and Missouri State, but the visits convinced community college leaders that Nixon is serious about what they view as "the backbone" for workforce development. Still, falling general revenue continue to stare the Governor in the face at every turn. "We would have to talk about getting additional funding," Nixon told The Joplin Globe after his stop in Neosho. In St. Louis, the tight budget may sideline a hub for Chinese cargo flights at Lambert airport. The state money to help make it happen has been frozen. "Economic conditions do not allow us to make any additional financial commitment at this time," Acting Director of Economic Development Katie Steele Danner told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. And as Jason Rosenbaum noted for the St. Louis Beacon, even Nixon's prized priority of Medicaid expansion remains in doubt. Call it responsible governing or a reversal on a campaign pledge, but Nixon continues to signal he'll proceed with caution on any kind of healthcare expansion. What a difference a year -- and an economic meltdown -- makes.

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