KC Star Looks at Nixon vs Spence on Jobs
October 15, 2012

Gov. Jay Nixon and Republican challenger Dave Spence sharply disagree on how Missouri has fared over the last four years.
Nixon, a Democrat, points out that since his first year in office the state’s unemployment rate has been below the national average. In August, the state added 17,900 jobs, third most in the nation. And agricultural exports continue to rise, up 32 percent in 2010 and 17 percent last year.
“When I started there were some economic challenges the entire nation and the state were facing,” Nixon said. “We focused on those early, and we’re making real progress.”
Spence counters with his own numbers that paint a much bleaker picture: One in six Missourians is on food stamps. More than 100,000 have quit looking for work since Nixon took office. Median household income fell 3.2 percent last year to $45,774 — the lowest figure since 1994.
“Is this truly the best we can do? Is this our legacy we’re leaving to our kids and grandkids?” Spence asked.
With the economy and jobs at the forefront of many voters’ minds, which version Missourians believe will go a long way in determining the state’s next governor on Nov. 6.
So far, polls have consistently shown Nixon with a large lead. But even though most agree the race is Nixon’s to lose, the Democratic incumbent faces an electorate that has been trending Republican for more than a decade.
Nixon, however, is busy touting his accomplishments, especially “bringing people together from both parties to balance the budget, maintaining our state’s AAA bond rating and holding the line on taxes.”
Nixon, who served as attorney general for 16 years before becoming governor in 2009, also points to his decision to call lawmakers into a special session in 2009 to pass an economic incentives package aimed at the automobile industry.
Last year, Ford Motor Co. announced a plan to invest $1.1 billion in its facility near Kansas City. General Motors broke ground in Wentzville outside St. Louis for a $380 million expansion project in May.
“We’re witnessing the rebirth of America’s automotive industry right here in Missouri,” Nixon said.
Nixon’s last two years as governor have coincided with historically large Republican majorities in the Missouri House and Senate. So while the governor can brag about working across the aisle, he also lists among his accomplishments several bills he vetoed — most prominently one mandating voters show ID to cast a ballot, and another making it more difficult to prove discrimination cases against former employers.
“I’ve been working with the legislature that is controlled by the other party, and we’ve gotten stuff done,” he said. “We haven’t had any budget meltdowns or government shutdowns.”
But Spence, the former CEO of a St. Louis-based plastics company who has never run for office, maintains that the governor’s vetoes have hurt Missouri’s economy. The workplace discrimination bill, for example, would simply make state law mirror the federal Civil Rights Act, he said.
“We’re now called the Sue-Me State, not the Show-Me State,” he added. “It’s time to change that.”
The bill has been a major legislative priority for the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry for several years. Spence has received the organization’s endorsement and has adopted much of the Chamber’s legislative agenda.
In addition to the workplace discrimination bill, Spence supports overhauling the state’s workers compensation system, reinstating caps on medical malpractice awards and passing a “right-to-work” law that would ban the requirement for workers to pay union dues as a condition of employment.
One thing Spence insisted won’t be on his agenda right away are tax cuts.
“I think it would be great to cut taxes, but we are barely paying our bills right now,” he said. “If given a choice, people would rather pay fewer taxes, but I don’t think we can afford tax cuts right now.”
Both candidates favor overhauling the state’s tax credit system. Nixon said tax credit programs cost the state $627 million last year, fully one-twelfth of the state budget. While he said he supports many of these programs, he noted that “we have to bend that cost curve … I’m hopeful about getting that done.”

New Nixon Spot Centers on Jobs, Hilights Claycomo Ford Plant
October 9, 2012

Missouri Jobless Reports Could Be Key Battleground for Nixon & Spence
August 15, 2012

The latest report showing Missouri’s unemployment rate rising in July to 7.2% may mean that jobs and job creation could be a key battleground in the fall campaign for Governor.
The 7.2% jobless rate is still below the national unemployment rate of 8.3%. It is the first time, however, since last summer the unemployment rate in Missouri has risen.
The Department of economic development says the intense heat and summer drought affected outdoor work during the month. The report also says Missouri lost 7,700 non-farm payroll employment.
Tuesday in Kansas City, the two candidates for Governor painted very different pictures of the state’s economy.
Democratic incumbent Jay Nixon was at the groundbreaking ceremonies for a new office building in south Kansas City.
He pointed to the on-line freight brokerage firm, Freightquote’s decision to move its corporate headquarters from suburban Lenexa, Kansas across the state line to Missouri as “another clear direction of our state’s economy”.
Nixon pointed to a Kaufman Foundation report showing Missouri going from near the bottom to the top 10 in the state’s business climate since 2008 when he was elected.
The construction of the Freightquote headquarters will provide 200 construction jobs, according to Nixon, and house the firm’s 1,000 full-time workers. Many already live in the Kansas City metro.
Republican challenger Dave Spence was in Kansas City hours later with a very different view.
Spence told a rally, “We (Missouri) are 48th of 50 in the last 10 years in economic growth.” He did not cite a source for that claim.
“We are dead last in job creation,” he added.
A report in the Tuesday edition of the St. Louis Business Journal also indicates Missouri’s sluggishness on the jobs front..
The article, cites statistics from the Bureau of Labor. The Bureau said Missouri was third in the number of jobs lost in the period from June of 2011 to June 2012.
It said Missouri lost 4,100 jobs over that period. Only Mississippi (4,200 jobs), and Wisconsin (19,600) lost more jobs than Missouri in the same amount of time.

Schweich Audit Knocks Nixon’s Jobs Program
July 3, 2012

From the St. Louis Post Dispatch, via John Combest:
JEFFERSON CITY • A key Missouri economic development program overstates the number of jobs it creates and is open to abuse because of poor management, a state audit says.
The scathing report, issued Monday by state Auditor Tom Schweich, takes aim at the Quality Jobs program, which has been hailed by Republican and Democratic governors alike for creating good-paying jobs with health insurance.
Under the program, companies can get state tax breaks for adding jobs that pay at least the county’s average wage. The employer also must pay at least half the employee’s health insurance premium.
Since the program began in 2005, the state has approved projects that were estimated to create 45,646 jobs. But, as the Post-Dispatch first reported in 2009, many of those jobs never materialized. The Department of Economic Development this year lowered its projection to about 26,686 jobs. So far, a total of 7,176 jobs have been created.
Not only does that give the public and the Legislature the wrong impression, Schweich said, the department doesn’t adequately check to see whether businesses are doing what they promised.
“They basically trust the companies to self-report, and they do very little to monitor it,” Schweich said in an interview.
Schweich gave the program a rating of poor, the lowest possible score. It was the first time he had assigned that rating to a state program, his office said. Since January 2011, he has given out 19 “poor” ratings, but the others went to various local entities run by cities and counties.
The Department of Economic Development disagreed with Schweich’s findings. In written responses included with the audit, the agency said that while initial job projections are based on a company’s “best estimate” for the next five to eight years, the department updates those estimates annually to reflect projects that failed to hit their targets.

Spence Campaign Commercial Goes After Nixon on Jobs
January 31, 2012

This is his first commercial of the campaign: