The Republican lieutenant governor of Missouri challenged his boss Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon Monday to a debate on whether to end mandatory union dues in the state.
The policy, known as right-to-work, has already passed in 25 states with Missouri Republicans trying to pass it as well. A recent measure to enact the policy in the state was vetoed by Nixon in early June. The veto drew suspicion after the governor received a $50,000 campaign contribution from the United Automobile Workers (UAW) not a week after. Local 249 of the UAW even joined the governor during the veto.
“I believe Right to Work will help Missouri attract and retain the family-supporting jobs we need for our state to thrive,” Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder said in a statement. “We are at an economic disadvantage because, unlike six of our neighboring states, we do not have a Right to Work law.”
Kinder was among those critical of the governor for the veto and union contribution. He has urged Nixon to return the money, noting the governor cannot even seek another term in office and therefore really doesn’t need campaign funds.
“With his veto, Governor Nixon stands in the way of jobs and economic growth for Missouri,” Kinder continued. “Meanwhile, Attorney General Chris Koster has praised the governor’s veto. I challenge either the governor or the attorney general – or both of them, for that matter – to debate me on this issue.”
House Bill 116 was signed by Speaker of the House John Diehl and Senate President Pro Tem Tom Dempsey, both Republicans, in late May and would have made Missouri the 26th state to enact such a law. Diehl has since resigned for sending sexually charged text messages to a teenage intern.
Though the measure was vetoed, Republicans might be able to override it come September if they can get enough votes. The state chapter of Americans for Prosperity has already begun a media campaign to promote the policy ahead of the override vote.
“I am ready and willing to defend my support of Right to Work. Will Gov. Nixon or Attorney General Chris Koster do the same?” Kinder concluded. “Missourians have a right to hear arguments for both sides of this important issue.”
Though not in a debate setting, Nixon has defended his decision to veto the measure. Unlike Kinder and the other Republicans, Nixon sees the policy as being bad for workers.
“For generations, the ability of workers to join together and bargain collectively for fair wages and benefits has formed the foundation of the American middle-class,” Nixon declared in a statement from June.
“This extreme measure would take our state backward, squeeze the middle-class, lower wages for Missouri families, and subject businesses to criminal and unlimited civil liability,” he continued. “Right-to-Work is wrong for Missouri, it’s wrong for the middle-class – and it must never become the law of the Show-Me State.”
It is not yet known whether Nixon will accept the challenge. The governor’s office did not respond to a request for comment from The Daily Caller News Foundation.