Nixon defends state job cuts during Columbia visit

The governor stopped by to outline incentives for creating jobs
Friday, January 22, 2010 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 9:04 a.m. CST, Friday, January 22, 2010
Gov. Jay Nixon explains details of his 2010 Jobs Package. He visited businesses in Columbia, St. Louis and Kansas City on Thursday.

COLUMBIA — Gov. Jay Nixon defended his call for cutting more state jobs during a Thursday visit to in downtown Columbia.

Nixon said Wednesday night in his State of the State Address that by the end of the year, he will have reduced the state workforce by cutting nearly 1,800 state jobs. His budget recommendation calls for eliminating 544 positions in the next fiscal year. Nixon clarified his recommendation during his visit to by saying 400 or more of those are non-paying positions on boards or commissions.

“Some boards haven’t met in 10 years,” Nixon said, but he also said there are still state employees who will be “trimmed” in the next year.

“When the money doesn’t come in, my job is to match the revenue,” he said.

Nixon also outlined his “three-prong plan” for creating private-sector jobs in the coming year.

The first leg of Nixon’s plan involves expanding existing tools under the Missouri First Initiative. Under the proposal, businesses that have been in Missouri for at least five years, but no more than 25 years, would receive extra incentives if the plan is passed by the legislature.

Another goal of Nixon’s package is to invest in science and technology with the Missouri Science and Innovation Reinvestment Act, or what Nixon calls MOSIRA.

“The way to grow this economy is to invest in human capital,” Nixon said.

State Rep. Mary Still, D-Columbia, said the program would have a particularly strong impact in Columbia. “We do have the foundation for a high-tech community."

Physician and entrepreneur Anthony Harris knows the importance of government incentives for new businesses. Harris recently opened a new medical device company in Columbia with money from a Biodesign and Innovation Fellowship funded through the Missouri Technology Corp. His company, Dermele Skin Care, only employs three managers, but he said he hopes to hire more with new money from a Small Business Innovation Research grant.  

Nixon’s third component is to enhance job training at Missouri community colleges through a $12 million investment under the Training for Tomorrow Initiative. Community colleges seeking money from the program can submit detailed proposals to the Missouri Department of Economic Development until Feb. 15. The applications must outline how the college will use the money to help specific in-demand programs.

Moberly Area Community College should be in a good position to benefit from the initiative, Still said.

Nixon's Columbia stop was his third of the day. He also visited St. Louis and Kansas City.

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