Nixon promotes jobs package, promises details later

On Monday Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon promised to make private-sector job creation his first priority in the upcoming legislative session.

But Nixon — a Democrat running for re-election this fall — would not say how much his jobs effort would cost, who would pay for it, or what other state programs might face cuts to pay for job incentive legislation.

“We are now at a time where we are getting to job growth, and we want to accelerate that job growth,” Nixon said at a news conference at the Magna Seating of America plant in Excelsior Springs, where workers make seats for cars. Dozens of plant workers watched Nixon’s remarks.

The state faces a potential budget shortfall of $500 million, according to some estimates, potentially putting pressure on some business and employment incentive proposals. Lawmakers were unable to agree on a broad package of business incentives and tax credits during a special session last fall in part because of worries about cost.

One of the business incentive proposals that did pass in the special session was the Missouri Science and Innovation Reinvestment Act, known as MOSIRA. On Monday Nixon pledged funding to implement the biotech subsidy fund, despite ongoing concerns about its legality.

He proposed six other general targets for job growth initiatives, including more exports, more training for high-tech jobs, more jobs for veterans, and a push for automobile supply manufacturing in the state.

Nixon said he would travel to Detroit this week to lobby for that work in Missouri.

“I’d sure like to see some details,” said Missouri Rep. Jerry Nolte, a Gladstone Republican. “I think we’ve got time to sit down and look at what we can do to create the atmosphere for job creation.”

The governor said he would provide more details of his jobs program, and the state budget, during his state of the state speech next week.

In January 2009, the last month before Nixon became governor, the Missouri unemployment rate was 8%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In November 2011 — the last month for which state figures are available — the state’s unemployment rate was estimated at 8.2%.