To The Editor:
I’m compelled to respond to Bill Miller’s editorial which gives, in my opinion, a limited view of Missouri’s Department of Economic Development.
The editorial says to “condemn the governor and the state department for operating a failed overall strategy is a gross misrepresentation.” I’m here to argue Nixon’s strategy is an overall failure because the numbers do not lie.
The editorial seems to brush off DED’s role in the Mamtek mess as merely an isolated “mistake” in a larger economic development strategy. It’s much more than that.
Moberly taxpayers are on the hook for $39 million, an obligation that might cripple the city. Nixon’s DED was at the ground floor of the deal, a willing participant in all the meetings with the company and the city, and even offered over $17 million in state incentives to sweeten the pot for Mamtek.
When DED discovered Mamtek lied about operational factories in China, it did not disclose the critical information to Moberly. Nixon’s fingerprints are all over this fiasco and potentially crippling a city is much more than a “mistake.”
A simple search on the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ website paints a much bleaker picture for Nixon’s economic development strategy. The state lost over 50,000 jobs under Nixon and our labor force shrunk by over 100,000.
That number represents 100,000 people who’ve stopped looking for work and given up on finding a job altogether. By comparison, Washington’s population is just 14,000 people. Those 100,000 people who have dropped from the labor force under Nixon would populate the sixth largest city in the state. If these are the results of an overall strategy, we had better get back to the drawing board.
And it’s not just about job creation either. The lasting effects of a backward-trending economy are staggering. Just these past few weeks we’ve learned Missouri’s average income is at its lowest level since ’94.
One in six Missourians are now on food stamps and just last week we learned one in six Missourians are now defined as living in “poverty.” This includes a 30,000-plus increase in the last year alone.
We should be embarrassed by what we’ve done to our state. I’m looking for the positive side, and I just can’t see it.
All these facts pale in comparison to what I found the most egregious oversight in the editorial’s analysis of Jay Nixon’s Department of Economic Development: his unwillingness to take responsibility for its failures.
As the Mamtek story was breaking, Nixon was questioned in his Capitol office about the failed project, specifically DED’s involvement in the deal. Nixon fumbled around a bit and then threw his own administration under the bus saying, “I don’t run the Department of Economic Development.”
If our own governor won’t hold himself accountable for economic development, how can we expect him to hold an entire department accountable? It’s easy to point to a few successes sprinkled here and there, but Nixon’s economic record should be evaluated as a whole.
When the dust settles, the facts point to only one conclusion: Jay Nixon’s policies are an abject failure.