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Nixon singles out investment, education as key economic challenges

RCGA President Dick Fleming and Governor Jay Nixon
Adam Allington, St. Louis Public Radio
RCGA President Dick Fleming and Governor Jay Nixon

By Adam Allington, St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis, MO – Governor Jay Nixon says Missouri is the only state in the Midwest with a triple-A bond rating despite the recession.

The governor was at the headquarters of Express Scripts where he met with business leaders to discuss the challenges facing the regional economy.

He said while Missouri isn't able to match some of the tax incentives offered by other states, the state's excellent bond rating assures that the state can leverage capital.

"Capital is cheaper to get in this state than any other state, we've carry a low debt load. So that's why this year we were able to do something other states haven't we were able to fully fund K-12 and add 70 million dollars to that," said Nixon.

The CEO's also singled out a well trained job force and mentioned the number of students who do not complete a four-year degree as a source of concern.

Nixon says "rethinking the senior year of high school", could be one way the state helps train its next-generation work force.

The governor says he'd like to see more seniors taking college-level courses rather than coasting through their final year.

"The double-whammy of a dropout rate that has not improved in a number of years in the state of Missouri, as well as the fact that college is very expensive, puts us in a situation where we need kids to graduate," said Nixon, "but we also need to make sure that the kids who are graduating get college credit while they're in high school."

Nixon also said that he would like to see the option of a 3-year bachelor's degree, or a 4-year MBA for students who accumulate enough credits in high school.