By MATT HOPF
Herald-Whig Staff Writer
HANNIBAL, Mo. -- Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon said it is more critical for lawmakers in Washington to reach a deal on the debt ceiling limit before the Oct. 17 deadline than ending the federal government shutdown, now in its second week.
"Having a budget disagreement is a much less significant problem than having a credit problem," said the Democrat, who is in his second term. "It's one thing to argue about how you're going to spend money in the future ... but to not pay your bills is unacceptable. They need to get a deal on this debt ceiling. They need to get it now and get that off the table so we are able to continue to move forward as a country."
Nixon said if lawmakers don't reach a deal soon on the government shutdown, it will affect programs in Missouri, including the Department of Health. He said because of the state's cash-flow management, it has been able to maintain the programs that receive federal dollars so far.
"If they don't get a deal relatively quickly up there, we're going to have to begin taking much more aggressive steps at the state level," he said. "So we want them to get their fiscal house in order and get that deal done. Otherwise, over the next couple of weeks, we're going to have to begin to have to make trims to services here."
Nixon made his comments Wednesday at Buckhorn Rubber Products in Hannibal, where he touted the state's workforce training programs available through Missouri Works. The program was rolled out earlier this year to streamline the state's economic development and workforce training programs.
Buckhorn Rubber Products received $20,000 through the program to help train its 180 employees and support more than $1 million in capital investments. The state has approved 370 companies for funds to support training nearly 36,000 workers.
"It's the skills of the employees here at Buckhorn and all across the state that give us a competitive advantage," Nixon said. "And given the opportunity and the tools, Missouri workers are second to none. They get up early, stay late, take training and get the job done."
He said the state has been able to increase workplace training funding by more than 50 percent, even as the state cut other areas.
"By partnering with community colleges and technical schools, we're able to provide Missouri employers with a training program. Each one is costumed-tailored to meet their specific needs," Nixon said.
Buckhorn Rubber manufactures 3-D blow-molded plastic, injection and compression-molded original rubber equipment, and replacement parts for the transportation, agricultural and civil construction industries.
"Workforce training grants have helped us defray the costs of new employee training, training on operation of new equipment and training on ever-changing customer quality and technical product requirements," said Tony Kendall, operations manager for Buckhorn. "Without the Missouri Works program, much of the training we currently do would not possible in its current form."