As we approach the one-year anniversary of my election as Governor, I wanted to take a moment to say "Thank You" yet again. It is a tremendous honor to serve the people of our great state. We are facing unprecedented economic challenges, but we have not wavered from the values we share.
Times are tough. Too many families are struggling to make ends meet, and unemployment remains unacceptably high. But know this: We are making progress. With your help, we've begun to set the stage for Missouri's economic rebound, and I believe the Show-Me State is well positioned to lead the national economic recovery and resurgence.
As Missouri families tighten their belts and make tough choices, state government must do the same. I am committed to keeping taxes low and getting the most out of every dollar.
The national economic downturn has had a dramatic impact on the state's budget. State revenue has fallen to about 10 percent below this time last year. But while these numbers pose real challenges, they didn't take us by surprise. Over the past year, we took an aggressive -- and fiscally conservative -- approach to managing our budget. We trimmed the budget early, reducing the overall size of our state workforce by about 1,700 positions. We shrank programs where necessary. And as a result, we've protected our top priorities of jobs, education and health care, and we've avoided the dire situations now playing out in other states.
Because of our bold actions, Missouri is gaining attention and respect from national economic experts. Just a few weeks ago, Fitch Ratings affirmed Missouri's excellent triple-A bond rating. That makes us one of only seven states -- and the only state in the Midwest -- to achieve triple-A status from all three rating firms.
In addition to balancing the budget while keeping taxes low, we have made strategic investments in creating jobs. During the last legislative session, I passed a comprehensive jobs bill that gave us better tools to recruit businesses. We created a small-business loan program to help emerging businesses grow. And we eliminated the franchise tax on more than 16,000 small businesses. These efforts are already beginning to pay off.
While we aggressively pursue new businesses and new investment, we can't forget the businesses that are already here. We want to reward and protect companies with deep roots in Missouri that also have the potential to grow and create jobs. That's what my new Missouri First initiative is all about. When the General Assembly returns in January, we will put forward a detailed legislative package to help existing Missouri businesses grow -- and create the jobs of tomorrow.
We also worked to ensure that Missouri workers have the skills necessary to compete in the 21st-century economy. As a first step, we worked to keep Missouri state colleges and universities affordable by freezing tuition. We also established the Caring for Missourians program which helps Missouri's colleges and universities train Missourians to meet the critical need for trained health care professionals. And earlier this year, put more than 7,000 youths to work in high-tech, green and other industries through an innovative summer employment program.
This responsible approach -- keeping taxes low, balancing the budget, investing strategically in job creation -- will help turn this economy around. There is still much work to be done, but we are positioning Missouri to lead the national economic recovery and resurgence.
None of this would have been possible without your support, so once again, thank you. It is truly an honor to serve Missouri as your Governor.
Monday, November 02, 2009
Nixon: Stage has been set for Missouri's economic rebound
In a message sent out today, Gov. Jay Nixon said Missouri is well-positioned for an economic rebound: