Sunday, September 20, 2009

Week 36: Nixon's Grade


The removal of Linda Martinez as Economic Development director gave Governor Nixon a fresh start last week at crafting an economic agenda for the state. Sure, the loss of his top cabinet official is marked as a setback, but you didn't exactly hear a chorus of business leaders protesting her resignation/dismissal. During his business roundtable in Springfield with interim director Katie Steele Danner where Nixon seemed loose and at ease, the message to the Governor was clear: lend a hand to the existing businesses that already produce revenue. And if that means scaling back incentives for historic buildings or other revitalization projects, so be it. Listening is half the job in governing, and Nixon did so dutifully, albeit without making any firm commitments. Nixon's team also felt vindicated on Wednesday when they emerged from the GOP-controlled veto session with a perfect 23-0 record. That's 23 vetoes, no overrides. Despite some huffing and puffing from Republican leaders about forcing through an accountability measure and considerable squawking about the veto of the helmet law repeal and new public defender requirements, Nixon's actions held. Instead, all the talk quickly refocused on what will be a bleak budget picture for the 2010 session. Nixon has touted Missouri's unique AAA-bond rating, which should provide easier access to capital. But some business leaders aren't convinced a big capital bond initiative is the way to spur growth. The Governor has said he wants to talk out the bond proposal with legislative leaders before indicating his support. But if he decides it should be part of his agenda, a multi-hundred-million dollar bond initiative could be the sleeper issue of the '10 session and election year.

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