(KTVI) Missouri Governor Jay Nixon recently sat down for an exclusive interview with FOX2 news, and addressed several topics, including the future of the St. Louis Rams in the state, the same-sex marriage debate, and his own political future after his term ends in 2016.
Governor Nixon renewed his push for the state legislature to approve an expansion of Medicaid in Missouri, citing other states and Republican governors like Chris Christie and John Kasich who have made the move, which is paid for by the federal government for three years.
"We need to quit sending our tax dollars to Washington so they can send it to states like New Jersey, Nevada or Michigan or Ohio and instead keep those dollars here where we can improve both health care opportunities as well as reform the system." Republicans in the GOP-controlled state legislature here have instead called for Medicaid reform.
On same-sex marriage, which is back in the headlines in Missouri 10 years after voters passed a constitutional amendment banning it, Nixon voiced support for a new vote by the public. The former state Attorney General seemed less interested in seeing the full legalization of marijuana come to Missouri, as it has in Colorado. Nixon indicated a look at medical marijuana, once input was taken from the medical community, was more likely.
Next month, state education officials will decide how Missouri will handle the unaccredited school crisis moving forward. After a lengthy state Supreme Court battle ultimately allowed students at the Riverview Gardens and Normandy school districts to transfer to accredited districts, Normandy finds itself on the brink of bankruptcy because of the costs of paying for the transfers students' transportation. Nixon said the lesson from the Normandy and Riverview Gardens situation is that earlier intervention is necessary. "We all know that the best policy is to get is to intervene and help school districts that are headed in the wrong direction much sooner so that no districts become unaccredited," Nixon said.
Governor Nixon has taken the lead on negotiations aimed at keeping the St. Louis Rams in the city. Those talks have been publicly viewed as being at something of standstill since the team and the St. Louis Convention and Visitors Bureau could not come to an agreement in arbitration. Rams owner Stan Kroenke's recent move to purchase a plot of land that could be used for a stadium in Los Angeles renewed fears that the team could relocate after the Edward Jones Dome's lease moves to a year-to-year status after the 2015 season. Governor Nixon would not comment on specific discussions he's had with Kroenke. He ruled out a Jerry Jones style "Taj Majal" in the image of AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, but otherwise said he feels like there's time to get a deal done.
"We're looking very carefully at what we can do...what's best for the taxpayers as well as to keep this very important team there. I think the team...the NFL clearly wants to be in St. Louis. I think it's a good market for them. They like the center part of the country so we'll have some continuing discussions as the weeks and months go forward but they don't flip to year to year till 15, and so we've got some time here," Nixon said.
There has been plenty of speculation about what Nixon, who is barred by term limits from running for re-election in 2016, has designs on next. It sounds like people can cross off a second bid for the United States Senate.
"After being governor, going up there to Washington as a freshman Senator doesn't tremendously interest me at this point...the rest of anything else is something that's really not a focal point of my attention right now," he said. I think Secretary Clinton would make a great candidate for President. I'm hopeful that she runs and if she does run I look forward to making sure that she carries the Show Me State."
In an interview with Politico during a weekend trip to Washington, DC to meet with President Obama and the nation's governor, Nixon renewed his support for a Hillary Clinton run, but left the door open to his own White House bid.