Missouri leaders must continue to make sure the state is "maintaining our fiscal discipline" while also working hard "to create the jobs of the future," Gov. Jay Nixon told Missouri reporters, editors and media company owners Thursday afternoon.
But, even while continuing a push to get more job opportunities for Missourians, the governor defended ongoing efforts to reduce the size of the state's workforce.
"We've had to lean-up the workforce by about 3,300," Nixon said during the annual Associated Press/Missouri Press Association "Day at the Capitol" event. "We've had to, in essence, take about $1.8 billion out of the budget of this state.
"I've tried to make those cuts at the places I thought were the most appropriate to make them - it is never easy ... to let folks go."
The governor said he doesn't take those job-cutting decisions lightly, "but I do think and continue to believe that there are efficiencies in government that we can continue to get."
Nixon acknowledged state employees haven't had raises in several years.
"I appreciate people who take public service as a calling, and I'm going to do everything I can to make sure that they have not only jobs, but careers," Nixon said. "I think it's important to note that, in our merit system, 7,400 people were promoted last year.
"If you're only thinking about what "cost of living' increase you get - we need employees who want to get promoted and want to have more responsibility."