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Jay Nixon

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Jay Nixon
Jay Nixon.jpg
Governor of Missouri
In office
January 12, 2009 - Present
Years in position 6
Elections and appointments
First electedNovember 4, 2008
Term limitsN/A
Prior offices
Missouri Attorney General
Missouri State Senator
Bachelor'sUniversity of Missouri-Columbia (1978)
J.D.University of Missouri-Columbia (1981)
Date of birthFebruary 13, 1956
Place of birthDeSoto, Missouri
Office website
Personal website
Campaign website
Jeremiah W. "Jay" Nixon (b. February 13, 1956) is a Democratic politician from Missouri and the current Governor of Missouri. He formerly served as the Attorney General of Missouri.


Nixon is a native of De Soto, Missouri. He earned his bachelor's degree in political science and his Juris Doctor from the University of Missouri-Columbia in 1978 and 1981, respectively. After earning his J.D., he became an attorney in private practice. He is married to Georganne Wheeler Nixon; they have two children, Jeremiah, Jr., and Will. They attend the First United Methodist Church in Jefferson City.[1]


  • BA, Political science, University of Missouri-Columbia (1978)
  • JD, University of Missouri-Columbia (1981)

Political career

Governor of Missouri (2008 - Present)

Nixon was elected governor and entered office in early 2009.

Almost two years into his first term, Nixon had a 44 percent to 30 percent approval rating among Missouri voters, according to a survey by Public Policy Polling. Among Democrats, Nixon showed a weak 54 to 26 percent approval rating. But among Republicans he nearly broke even with 34 to 37 percent. PPP said that among voters Nixon would pull in 14 or 15 percent of Republicans. [2]

Nixon has a "slim, three-point lead" over his likely challenger, Missouri Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, to win the state's top political position in 2012, according to a survey by Wilson Research Strategies. Nixon's name identification is much higher than his likely challenger, WRS says. Nixon also leads in the two largest media markets, Kansas City and St. Louis, while Kinder is strongest in the smaller, more-rural markets around Missouri. [3]

Judicial appointments

As governor, Nixon is responsible for appointing judges to Missouri state courts. In Missouri, the governor make a judicial appointment after candidates are recommended by a judicial nominating commission. After the governor appoints a judge, she or he must run for retention in the next general election more than one year after taking office. For an up-to-date list of all of Nixon's appointees, see Judgepedia's page on his appointments.


Challenge from the State Auditor

On Friday August 26, 2011, Governor Nixon was sued by Missouri's state auditor, who alleged the governor violated the state constitution by cutting spending on education and other services to help cover the costs of the Joplin tornado and spring flooding. The Governor reportedly announced $170 million in budget cuts for the fiscal year that began July 1, 2011.[4]

Auditor Schweich and his attorneys argue that the cuts are intended to be permanent and that the governor can reduce expenditures only when revenues fall below projections. While the Governor's attorneys claim that the cuts are temporary and authorized under a constitutional section that gives the governor the power to control the rate of expenditures.

The section of the Missouri Constitution under question states, "The governor may control the rate at which any appropriation is expended during the period of the appropriation by allotment or other means, and may reduce the expenditures of the state or any of its agencies below their appropriations whenever the actual revenues are less than the revenue estimates upon which the appropriations were based."[5]

Special session

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon signed a tax incentives bill on July 15, 2010 designed to support the state's automotive industry and manufacturing jobs. The bill passed after a four-week special legislative session he called to start on June 24th. The incentives allow automakers to retain withholding taxes only after a company makes a firm commitment to make capital investments in production capacity and keep workers on the job in Missouri. To offset the cost of the incentives, the governor asked legislators to reform the state employee pension system. Legislators complied and passed the bill; Nixon signed it into law on July 19. Members of the new retirement system are required to contribute 4 percent of their pay to the pension system. [6][7]

Tax credits

Not everyone was pleased with the creation of a tax credit review commission unveiled by Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon on July 21, 2010. The governor named 25 business, community and legislative leaders to serve on the commission. The Missouri Coalition for Historic Preservation and Economic Development, a coalition of business leaders, developers, preservationists, and labor groups, claimed the group lacks representation of people who know the economic benefits of historic tax credits. Meanwhile, an analyst from the Show-Me Institute, a free-market think tank, said if the governor was serious about stimulating productive economic growth in Missouri, Nixon would eliminate the tax incentive programs entirely. [8]

Despite calls to eliminate tax credits following the naming of the commission, Nixon told commissioners at the first meeting in early September that reforms were needed. The governor wanted the commission to complete the entire review process by Thanksgiving. This would have allowed the governor time to review the recommendations and present a plan to the Missouri General Assembly by the start of the next session in July. The governor outlined three things he wanted from commissioners - determine which of the 61 tax credit programs have a return on investment, which do not, and then make recommendations. And he wanted to ensure that the tax credits create jobs, boost development, and build strong communities. Nixon stressed several times that he did not want to eliminate tax credits, noting that it would create uncertainty in the market and would impact the bond ratings of Missouri. [9]

The commission traveled around Missouri to hear from residents, with its first stop in St. Joseph. All of the testimony at the first hearing was in favor of tax credits. Nine residents testified in favor of different tax credits. But due to the low numbers, the commission went into recess for a majority of the time between 3 p.m. and 9 p.m. [10]

After making stops in Joplin and Cape Girardeau, the Tax Credit Review Commission stopped in St. Louis. While there were more people at the hearings, the testimony was very similar to previous meetings. Almost everyone testified in favor of the state's tax credit programs. Barbara Geisman, deputy mayor for development in St. Louis, spoke first. She reminded the commission that the redevelopment of the Old Post Office, where the hearings were held, would not have been possible without tax credits. One person did testify against the tax credit programs. Christine Harbin, a research analyst with the free-market think tank Show-Me Institute, told commissioners targeted tax credit programs are a poor strategy for promoting economic development. [11]

If the governor accepts the proposals of his review panel, and if he is able to convince the Missouri General Assembly to make changes, reforming the state tax credit programs could save the state around $247 million. The commission approved recommendations by 10-separate subcommittees. The two biggest tax credit programs out of the state's 61, in terms of total tax dollars deferred, are the historic tax credit and the low-income housing development tax credit. Therefore, reforming both will will provide the most savings. The commission recommends dropping the annual cap on the historic preservation tax credit program from $140 million to $75 million. The panel also suggests dropping the tax credit period on the low-income housing tax credits from the current 10 years to five, with an annual cost cap of $16 million. In addition to putting tax credits on regular sunset schedules, which would set them up for routine evaluation, the panel recommends eliminating six of programs, including the wood energy tax credit, the wine grape tax credit and the film tax credit. [12]

The Tax Credit Review Commission released its 54-page report with recommendations to reform the states 61-different tax credit programs. The governor has promised to review the recommendations and plans to try and get reforms passed by the Missouri General Assembly, which starts the next legislative session in January. The question now is whether the reforms will pass. Some lawmakers say the reforms do not go far enough, while others say legislators need to focus on other areas first. The final report estimates that the reforms could save the state about $220 million in tax credit authorizations. Against this backdrop, the governor and legislative leaders estimate they will need to cut anywhere from $400 million to $600 million in the fiscal year 2012 budget, starting July 1, which they will begin crafting in January. [13]

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon is receiving criticism after reports a convicted felon was awarded $2 million in tax credits for a development project in southeast Missouri. The governor flew down to Cape Girardeau to announce the tax credits the week before. It turns out that the project is led by a man who is currently on probation after pleading guilty in 2007 to passing more than $90,000 in bad checks, according to court records obtained by The Associated Press. "These revelations raise serious questions about the sloppiness of Nixon's vetting procedures," said a spokesperson from the Missouri Republican Party following the revelations. [14]

Economic development

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon outlined how he plans to move the state's economy forward at the Governor's Economic Development Conference held in Kansas City in mid-September. The governor said that he has worked hard to keep the state's fiscal house in order since he entered office in 2009. He noted that he has managed to cut $1.5 billion from the state budget over the last two years. Nixon said the state has managed to keep its AAA bond ratings by all three rating agencies, noting Missouri is one of only seven states across the country with AAA ratings by all three bond rating agencies. The governor also talked about a steering committee he announced in May with the task of producing a strategic plan for the state's economic future. The committee and regional planning teams held meetings in six regions around the state. The goal is to come up with a plan by the first of December. The governor said the process is to determine what is working across Missouri and what is not working. [15]

At one of the regional planning meetings, held in St. Louis, Nixon said the "strategic initiative for economic growth" plan will not be one that sits on the table and collects dust. Nixon said the regional teams will provide localized and specialized insights to help him develop a five-year plan for economic growth. Many of the remarks by the governor were similar to themes in his speech the week before in Kansas City. In a press conference following the speech, Nixon said the regional meetings are not "about cutting our way to prosperity." Instead, the meetings are about "where we invest the economic tools to make the most difference," he said. The state is facing an estimated budget shortfall of $400 to $500 million for fiscal 2012, starting July 1. [16]

Following three meetings of a statewide steering committee and six regional planning forums held around the state, Nixon now has a preliminary five-year plan to boost the economy in Missouri. When the governor first announced the planning initiative, he instructed the steering committee to submit a set of preliminary objectives by Dec. 1. The eight objectives include attracting a workforce with the education and skills to succeed in a 21st-Century economy, supporting local economic-development organizations, and optimizing tax incentives and regulatory policies. The next step in the planning process will involve a second series of regional forums set to take place in January. After the second round of regional meetings, the statewide steering committee will finalize the five-year plan. The governor has asked to receive the final recommendations by March 31. [17]

The time for political theory has passed when it comes to creating jobs in the state, said Nixon when announcing $26.9 million in federal funds designated for small businesses. "Being governor of the state is not a theoretical job. It is a very practical job," Nixon said when asked whether the government should be in the business of picking winners and losers. "When there is $26 million that can you can turn into $260 million in the next few years to put people in Missouri to work... Like I said, the time for theory has passed. The time for practicality is here. We are going to continue to compete aggressively for dollars and opportunities that are available throughout the country." [18]

After several other states turned down federal money for high-speed rail, Nixon announced plans to pursue nearly $1 billion in funds for rail projects to improve the lines between St. Louis and Kansas City. Nixon said the determination to compete for the federal funds was not a partisan decision. "From my chair, I don't think this is a partisan issue," he said. "Dollars that weren't available have been made available." The governor added this is a one-time opportunity for federal dollars. "It is very clear to me that we should move forward on it," Nixon said. [19]

Fiscal policy

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon received a grade of "B" on his taxing and spending record by the Cato Institute, a free-market think tank. Scores ranging from 0 to 100 were calculated for each governor based on seven tax and spending variables. Those scores were then converted to the letter grades "A" to "F." Nixon received a score of 59 and a grade of "B." [20]

General revenue collections for the state finally started to turn around in September. The governor's office is not expecting the need to make further budget cuts for the current fiscal year, ending June 30, 2011. However, there is an estimated shortfall of $400 to $500 million for fiscal 2012, starting July 1. The governor's budget director, Linda Luebbering, has told department heads around the state to start looking for ways to reduce the budget shortfall. And some department leaders have already started to make announcements about how they are reducing costs. Even while most of the focus during the past two years have been on budget cuts, analysis by Missouri Watchdog shows that total spending by the state has increased by 13.6 percent from 2005 to 2009.[21]

Nixon proposed a budget for fiscal 2012 that would reduce total spending by 2.5 percent. Total spending recommended by the governor in his State of the State Address is $23.3 billion compared to estimated total spending of $23.8 billion for the fiscal year 2011, ending June 30. [22]

Taiwan trip canceled

Nixon canceled a trip to Eastern Asia in December 2010. He was going to be joined by two state department directors, business leaders and several trade and agriculture commodity group officials to sign an agreement with Taiwanese businesses to purchase $120 million in Missouri products a year for the five years following the trip.

Several published reports show that ongoing negotiations with Chinese officials over the location of a trade hub at Lambert St. Louis International Airport pushed state and local officials to urge Nixon not to travel to Taiwan. They wanted him to avoid threatening negotiations over the trade hub.

“Both countries are important trading partners…for Missouri businesses” Nixon said during a press conference in his office at the State Capitol. “In leading a large trade delegation of this magnitude, a number of factors come in to play…and I just felt it wasn’t an optimal time to (take the trip).”

Nixon said he heard from many groups about the trip, including those involved with the China hub project who felt that the trip would not be well received by Beijing. Nixon said he was told the discussions with China were at a critical juncture.

The trade pact with Taiwan would continue as soon as final details are worked out and paperwork is signed, he added.[23]

Nuclear plant

Mike Kehoe sponsored legislation that would speed up the process of building a second nuclear power plant in Missouri. The plant could take more than a decade to build.

The bill would allow a coalition of power companies, involved in an effort to obtain an early site permit from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, to recoup nuclear permit costs through rate hikes. Permit costs are estimated at around $40 million.

“Building a nuclear facility is a process, and it does take quite a while,” said Kehoe. “That’s why I feel it’s really important to talk about it today because we’re talking about supplying base-load power for people in 2020, maybe 2022, and our aging coal fired plants need to be addressed."

Kehoe noted that even if the permit is granted to build the plant in the next couple of years, a new plant may take 10 years or more to be constructed and brought online.

In November 2010, Gov. Nixon announced a coalition of power companies, led by Ameren Missouri, a division of St. Louis-based Ameren Corp., was pooling its resources in support of a second nuclear power generator in the state. The plant would be built next to Ameren’s existing nuclear facility in Callaway County.

“I think that’s about what the number should be,” Nixon said. “I think the process will continue to focus on the consumer protections that are in (the bill).”[24]

State plane

It cost taxpayers nearly $400,000 to fly Nixon around the state during his first two years in office, with different state agencies picking up the tab. The last flight paid by the governor's office was on Jan. 31, 2009, his first month in office. Lawmakers are working on legislation to prohibit the governor from using funds from other departments for travel expenses. [25]

Teacher sexual abuse

In August 2011, Nixon signed SB54 into law, a bill designed to protect students from sexual abuse from their teachers. Among the more controversial parts of the bill was section 162.069 which states, "Teachers also cannot have a nonwork-related website that allows exclusive access with a current or former student." This makes it a crime for teachers to have a current or former student under the age of 18 as a friend on a social networking site such as Facebook. There has been much objection to this by teachers and others. [26]

Attorney General of Missouri (1992 - 2008)

Nixon was first elected as Missouri's Attorney General on November 3, 1992, on a platform of fighting crime, cleaning up government corruption, and protecting consumers and the environment. Nixon followed William L. Webster as Attorney General, whose term had been plagued by scandal. The 1992 race for Attorney General between Nixon and former State House Minority Leader David Steelman was remarkably nasty and memorable for biting personal attacks on both sides. Nixon beat Steelman 51% to 45%, with an unusually high 4% of the votes going to the Libertarian candidate. Nixon was re-elected as Attorney General in 1996, 2000, and 2004.

One of the most popular programs Nixon has implemented is the state’s No Call program. More than 3.5 million Missourians are a part of the No Call list, which reduces unwanted telemarketing calls. Nixon also has recovered more than $1.2 million from telemarketers who violated the No Call law.

Nixon’s victory in the U.S. Supreme Court in Nixon v. Shrink reinstated Missouri’s campaign contribution limits and cleared the way nationally for campaign finance reform. In two other cases of significance, Nixon’s work in the Blue Cross and Blue Shield and the Health Midwest cases have resulted in the formation of the state’s two largest health care foundations, which will use more than $1.5 billion to help provide health care services to underserved populations of the state. Litigation by Nixon against tobacco companies for illegally marketing cigarettes to young people resulted in the largest settlement in the history of the state.

Nixon created an Agriculture and Environment Division, which has worked to protect the interests of the state regarding the flow of the Missouri River. Attorneys take legal action to stop pollution of the state’s air, water and soil and to look after Missouri’s agricultural interests.


As Attorney General, Nixon was heavily involved in controversial decisions regarding school desegregation, capital punishment, and abortion. Nixon has overseen the state's involvement in the court settlements that ended mandatory busing to achieve desegregation in St. Louis and Kansas City's public schools. His role in the desegregation cases has caused friction with some African American leaders. Nixon is also a supporter of capital punishment, which has caused him some political difficulties with opponents of the death penalty. In addition, Missouri Republicans have criticized Nixon for soliciting campaign contributions from utility company Ameren during an ongoing criminal investigation by his office of the company.[27]

Missouri State Senate (1986 - 1992)

Nixon was elected to the Missouri Senate in 1986. Two years later, he made his first bid for statewide office, an unsuccessful effort to oust incumbent U.S. Senator John Danforth. Nixon was soundly defeated by the popular Danforth, winning only 32% of the vote compared to Danforth's 68%.



See also: Missouri gubernatorial election, 2012

Early in 2011, it looked to be tough for Nixon to win his re-election campaign in 2012. In March, Nixon received a 61 percent approval rating in a poll conducted by Public Opinion Strategies, a Republican consulting firm. The governor's "strong" approval rating, however, was 13 percent, the same as where Nixon tested in February 2009, according to Neil Newhouse, partner and co-founder of the polling firm. The score was "extremely low," Newhouse said. "Generally, an incumbent governor's 'strong' job approval score should be about half of his overall approval score, meaning that Nixon's should be around 30 percent."[28]

Nixon continued to lead by 45 percent to 38 percent over Missouri Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder (R), who was expected to run against Nixon for the state's top political spot in 2012. Nixon had above average approval numbers, with 47 percent of voters happy with the job he's doing to 31 percent who disapprove, according to Public Policy Polling, which conducts polls mostly for Democrats. Nixon had almost as many Republicans -- 32 percent -- who approved of his performance as there were who were unhappy -- 40 percent -- according to the analysis by PPP. "It's rare to see any politician come that close to breaking even across party lines," PPP concludes. [29]

While Nixon's fate appeared up in the air, his candidacy received a boost in November when Kinder, following a controversy where he was photographed with an ex-stripper in a bar, announced he would not be running.[30]


On November 4, 2008, Nixon easily won election as Governor.[31]

Governor of Missouri, 2008
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Democratic Green check mark transparent.pngJay Nixon 58.4% 1,680,611
     Republican Kenny Hulshof 39.5% 1,136,364
     Libertarian Andrew W. Finkenstadt 1.1% 31,850
     Constitution Gregory Thompson 1% 28,941
     Write-in Mark Serati 0% 8
     Write-in Theodis Brown, Sr. 0% 4
Total Votes 2,877,778


In the race for state Attorney General in 2004, Nixon grabbed 60% of the vote and his Republican opponent, Chris Byrd, received 37%.


In the 1998 race for U.S. Senator, Nixon got 44% of the vote and his Republican opponent, Kit Bond, received 53%.


In the 1988 race for U.S. Senate, Nixon's 32% of the vote was defeated by Republican John Danforth's 68%.

Campaign donors

Ballotpedia collects information on campaign donors for each year in which a candidate or incumbent is running for election. The following table offers a breakdown of Jay Nixon's donors each year.[32] Click [show] for more information.

See also

External links

Suggest a link


  1. Jay Nixon, "Meet Jay," accessed December 31, 2011
  2. "Nixon outpolls McCaskill in favorability, survey says," Missouri Watchdog, December 8, 2010
  3. "Nixon narrowly leads Kinder in re-election bid, poll finds," Missouri Watchdog, December 22, 2010
  4. The Associated Press "UPDATE: Missouri auditor sues Gov. Nixon over disaster-related budget cuts" August 26, 2011
  5. The Associated Press "Judge weighing Nixon's budget cuts" October 31, 2011
  6. "Missouri Watchdog," "Missouri governor signs tax incentives bill for automakers," July 15, 2010
  7. "New state workers to start paying into pension system next year," Missouri Watchdog, July 19, 2010
  8. "Mixed reaction to governor's tax credit review commission," Missouri Watchdog, July 23, 2010
  9. "Reforming, not eliminating, tax credit programs in Missouri," Missouri Watchdog, September,9 2010
  10. "Missouri Tax Credit Review Commission hits the highway," Missouri Watchdog, September,14 2010
  11. "Missouri Tax Credit Review Commission stops in St. Louis," Missouri Watchdog, September,22 2010
  12. "Reforming tax credits could save Missouri more than $200 million," Missouri Watchdog, November,18 2010
  13. "Critics blast tax credit proposals by Missouri review panel," Missouri Watchdog, December,2 2010
  14. "Nixon draws fire for felon who was awarded tax credits," Missouri Watchdog, December,17 2010
  15. "Governor outlines plan to grow economy in Missouri," Missouri Watchdog, September, 16 2010
  16. "Missouri governor wants five-year plan for economy," Missouri Watchdog, September, 23 2010
  17. "Missouri governor praises five-year plan for economy," Missouri Watchdog, December, 3 2010
  18. "Nixon defends federal funds to help small business" Missouri Watchdog, March 23, 2011
  19. "Missouri wants nearly $1 billion for rail projects" Missouri Watchdog, March 29, 2011
  20. "Missouri governor receives 'B' grade in fiscal policy," Missouri Watchdog, September, 30 2010
  21. "Missouri revenue increases, while shortfall remains" Missouri Watchdog, October, 4 2010
  22. "Budget proposal outlines reduction in state spending" Missouri Watchdog, January, 20 2011
  23. "Nixon Expands Mental Health Services; Admits Local Pressure to Cancel Taiwan Trip," MO News Horizon, December 10, 2010
  24. "Bill boosting nuclear plant begins legislative path," Missouri News Horizon, December 17, 2010
  25. "Bill boosting nuclear plant begins legislative path," Missouri Watchdog, February 18, 2010
  26., "MO Outlaws Teacher Student Friends", August 3, 2011
  28. "Nixon may face tough re-election, pollster says," Missouri Watchdog, March 9, 2011
  29. "Nixon holds modest lead over Kinder, poll finds," Missouri Watchdog, March 11, 2011
  30. St. Louis Post-Dispatch, "Peter Kinder drops out of governor's race," November 19, 2011
  31. Missouri Secretary of State, "November 4, 2008 general election results," December 10, 2011
  32. Follow the, "Home," accessed February 17, 2015