Jeremiah W. (Jay) Nixon
55th Governor of Missouri
Born in the small town of De Soto and raised in a family of public servants, Jay Nixon has devoted his 30-year career in elected office to improving the lives of his fellow Missourians. A former state senator and four-term attorney general, he is currently completing his second consecutive term as Governor of Missouri. He was elected governor in 2008 with the highest margin of victory for a non-incumbent governor in 44 years.
Jay Nixon is known as a fiscal conservative who fights for Missouri’s working families and stronger, safer communities. As governor, he has taken action to end discrimination based on race, gender, sexual orientation and ethnic origin; protect the civil rights of women, minorities and individuals with disabilities and promote equal opportunity for all.
Taking office during the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, Gov. Nixon acted quickly and decisively to cut the size of state government and balance the budget without raising taxes. His commitment to fiscal discipline has protected Missouri’s AAA credit rating, while allowing smart investments in public education, children’s health, mental health and public safety.
Gov. Nixon’s proactive leadership is widely credited for reviving Missouri’s auto industry, creating thousands of new jobs and making the state a national leader in producing next-generation parts and quality vehicles.
Known as a consensus-builder, the Governor built a broad coalition of state leaders in the public and private sector to chart a path to a sustainable 21st Century economy. Building on that blueprint, Missouri has led the nation in new business creation, strengthening its reputation as a growing hub for high-tech jobs and innovation.
To prepare young Missourians to compete for the best jobs in a global economy, Gov. Nixon has made public education and college affordability top priorities. Working across the aisle, he secured record funding for Missouri’s public elementary and secondary schools, with a heightened focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
To bring the dream of a college education within reach for more Missouri families, Gov. Nixon expanded the A+ scholarship program statewide and secured four tuition freezes. As a result, while other states raised college tuition by double digits, Missouri has led the nation in holding down tuition increases at public universities since 2009.
An Eagle Scout and lifelong outdoorsman, Gov. Nixon achieved his goal to expand Missouri’s outdoor economy and boost state park attendance to record levels, reversing a 10-year decline. Each year thousands of Missouri families, including his own, take part in the 100 Missouri Miles Challenge, hiking, biking, and paddling in Missouri’s state parks – voted best in the nation for camping and hiking. Gov. Nixon was also instrumental in the creation of the Katy Trail, the longest rails-to-trails project in the nation, and its extension all the way across the state.
Gov. Nixon believes every Missourian deserves the opportunity to live up to their God-given potential. He has made Missouri a national leader in the early identification and treatment of autism and mental illness, and made historic investments in helping thousands of Missourians with developmental disabilities lead healthier, safer and more productive lives.
The Partnership for Hope, the first initiative of its kind in the nation, helps thousands of Missourians with developmental disabilities get the support services they need to live more independently. And thanks to his efforts, low-income Missourians with developmental disabilities and their families no longer must wait months or years for in-home services.
Throughout the state, community mental health liaisons are working with law enforcement and the courts to connect people in behavioral health crises to treatment. In 2015, the Governor broke ground on a state-of-the-art mental hospital in Fulton, replacing a dangerous, deteriorating facility dating back to 1851.
Gov. Nixon created the Faith-Based and Community Service Partnership for Disaster Recovery, to augment state and federal response to frequent storms and flooding. His compassionate and effective leadership in the aftermath of the deadly EF-5 tornado that struck Joplin in 2011 serves as a national model.
After earning both his undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Missouri-Columbia, Nixon returned to DeSoto to practice as an attorney. From 1986 to 1992, he represented the people of Jefferson County in the Missouri State Senate, where he was instrumental in passing legislation to improve prenatal care for expectant mothers.
In 1992, Nixon was elected attorney general and went on to serve four consecutive terms. Inheriting an office tainted by scandal, Nixon restored integrity to the Attorney General’s Office by cleaning up corruption, cracking down on crime, and protecting consumers and the environment. Under his leadership, the Attorney General’s Office became one of the most efficient and effective in state government.
As Attorney General, he earned a reputation for taking on tough fights -- and winning. He argued before the United States Supreme Court in Nixon v. Shrink, a landmark victory that reinstated Missouri’s campaign contribution limits and cleared the way nationally for campaign finance reform. One of his most successful programs, Missouri’s popular No-Call List, has become a model for states across the nation to protect consumers from unwanted telemarketing calls.
His lawsuit against the big tobacco companies collected billions of dollars for Missourians, and his settlements with the insurance industry and hospitals led to the formation of two of the largest health care foundations in state history, including the Missouri Foundation for Health.
He took action to make sure that lead mining companies were held accountable for the pollution they caused, and cleaned up the areas they damaged after closing down operations in Missouri. As a result of a settlement reached with ASARCO, millions of dollars are now being invested in projects to restore and improve public and private lands and water quality in Southeast Missouri.
Governor Nixon and his wife, Georganne Wheeler Nixon, have two sons, Jeremiah and Willson. They belong to the First United Methodist Church in Jefferson City.