By CHRIS BLANK
(JEFFERSON CITY, Mo., AP) — Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon appointed the state treasurer Friday to oversee a newly formed military partnership aimed at keeping and enhancing military bases, force strength and federal defense spending in the state.
The Democratic governor said the military presence in Missouri is important for national security and the state’s economy and that federal spending cuts increase the need to speak up. Nixon said a recent economic impact study indicated that the Missouri National Guard, Whiteman Air Force Base and Fort Leonard Wood supported about 65,000 direct and indirect jobs, total, and have a more than $3 billion annual economic impact on the state.
“What concerns you in these situations is clearly the specter of significant cuts out there,” Nixon said. “And I want to make sure that we are going to coordinate and cooperate through all parts of the state, and I am confident that with the knowledge and power of a state constitutional officer in charge of this process between now and March 31, that he will be able to even further unify and lead Missourians to make sure our voice is clear and heard.”
Leading the military partnership is Treasurer Clint Zweifel, who also will gather input from local communities.
“Leading our efforts here at home and advocating in our nation’s capital are critical ways that we can help support, protect and enhance the investments that the nation has already made here in Missouri, and this will help us compete in that new and different budgetary climate,” Zweifel said.
Missouri also has a Military Preparedness and Enhancement Commission, which was created by a 2005 law sponsored by Democratic Attorney General Chris Koster, who was a first-year Republican senator at the time. The commission’s duties included developing plans to protect and attract expanded missions to the state’s military installations. Commission members include gubernatorial appointees and lawmakers.
Nixon said the breadth of the new military partnership is greater than the commission and that the timeline is shorter. The governor also cited Zweifel’s ability to advocate within the Legislature.