by Christine Roto and Eric Stoyanov
Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon said Thursday, Nov. 8, that he will not change the way he governs in his second term despite having to contend with veto-proof majorities in both chambers of Missouri’s General Assembly.
The GOP will have its first ever two-thirds majority in the General Assembly when the legislature enters session in January.
The Republicans lost two seats in the Senate but will still hold 24 seats with the Democrats controlling the remaining 10 seats.
Republicans faired better in the House, gaining four seats. The GOP won 110 seats in the House with the Democrats taking 53 seats. To override a veto from Gov. Nixon, Republicans need only 23 seats in the Senate and 109 in the House.
House Speaker Tim Jones, R-St. Louis County, issued a challenge to the governor on Nov. 7, saying Nixon will have to work better with the legislature than he has in the past.
“The governor will need to understand the importance of true, actual negotiation during the legislative process as the ‘checkmate’ that he possesses, in the form of a veto, is now equaled by the overwhelming numbers that we have in the House and the Senate,” Jones said.
When asked to respond to Jones’ comment, Nixon said he does not approach his position in a partisan way and will “continue to work with members of both sides of the aisle.”
“Being the chief executive of the state has many things that are broader or different than that, and they take a tremendous amount of energy,” Nixon said in regard to working with the legislature.
The Senate’s new top leader, Tom Dempsey, R-St. Charles, did not specifically reiterate Jones’ stance Thursday, but said he hopes to work productively with the governor.
“We’ll encourage the governor to communicate with us and we’ll certainly extend my hand to communicate with him, so that these priorities that are so critical to the state of Missouri are accomplished,” Dempsey said.
During the 2012 legislative session, Dempsey repeatedly said he would have liked more input from the governor’s office on important legislative issues, such as changes to the state’s workers’ compensation laws and fully funding Missouri’s K-12 education foundation formula.
Sen. Jolie Justus, D-Kansas City, also weighed in after being elected the leader of her caucus.
Justus said she has a great relationship with the governor and hopes to continue that relationship as the leader of the Senate’s minority caucus.
“Obviously we all know that the governor plays his cards very close to the vest, and that’s how he governs,” Justus said.