State of the State expected to focus on jobs

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are eager to hear how Gov. Jay Nixon plans to deal with a $500m shortfall in budget money.

The disappearance of federal stimulus money leaves the administration with few, if any, options for new spending.

But the Governor has spent the last week traveling the state to promote a new jobs creation package, which will come with a price tag.

Tetra Pak, in Sikeston, is something of a poster child for what the Governor is working to promote. The company makes beverage cartons, and has taken advantage of thousands of state dollars for worker training.

"Over the course of the last five to six years, with this money, we've trained our employees in new jobs and got them advanced skills," Factory Manager Michael Tomaszewski said.

The Governor says it gives the state everything it needs to make sure it has the strongest workforce possible.

The Missouri Department of Economic Development is under attack for offering tax credits to companies with little success in producing jobs.

"The Governor's office and your department, in press releases, uses it as some sort of a promise, that is sold as jobs coming to our state," Rep. Jay Barnes said.

So the Governor is working to rehab his job creation effort.

His "Missouri Works" initiative provides millions in new tax incentives for high-tech companies and next-generation automobile manufacturing. He wants a major new commitment to developing exports, and he wants more money for job training. Workers at Tetra Pak took classes at a local community college.

"That actually helped me understand how to organize and how to handle people and where to direct them and their efforts," Tetra Pak employee Greg Rulo said.

The Governor has not said how much "Missouri Works" will cost. He is expected to do so Tuesday evening during his State of the State address.

"We're still going to have to take hundreds of millions out of the budget," Gov. Nixon said. "Because the last part of the federal stabilization dollars ended. But, we will, like we have in the past, come together and balance the budget, hold the line and taxes and keep the state moving forward."

According to the Department of Economic Development, Missouri added 11,000 new manufacturing jobs in the first eleven months of last year.

The unemployment rate in Missouri is now at its lowest point in 34 months.

You can watch the governor's address to the legislature live right here on and add your comments during a live chat about the State of the State address.

The speech is scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday evening.