A leader in the Missouri House says Governor Nixon needs to spend less time holding news conferences in Kansas City and more time working with legislators at the Capitol.

Governor Nixon takes a trip to Kansas City to tout an economic development bill seen as vital to keeping a production line running at the Ford Claycomo plant. Nixon has told workers at the Ford Claycomo factory that the Missouri Manufacturing Jobs Act will protect automotive jobs as well as other manufacturing jobs in the state. The act would allow qualified manufacturers and supplies to retain a portion of their withheld income taxes. Incentives would be capped at $15 million annually.

House Majority Floor Leader Steven Tilley (R-Perryville) says Nixon needs to stay put.

“You know, I’m thrilled that the governor is going to Kansas City to help make this deal happen, I just think he should spend some time here in this Capitol to really make this deal happen,” Tilley tells reporters, “because the reality is that you can say all that you want to Ford, they’re looking for this bill to make this deal happen and his time is better spent on the other side of the building (the Senate), sitting down with people and explaining to them how important this bill is for the citizens of this state.”

Tilley says the bill with the greatest chance to pass this session is SB 773. Tilley says it shouldn’t take must personal lobbying from the governor to get the bill passed. Ford makes F-150 pick-ups and Escapes at Claycomo. The Escape production line is going to be phased out. Other states have offered incentives to Ford to move that production away from Claycomo.

Rep. Jerry Nolte (R-Gladstone) says the legislature needs to act now.

“We need to have all hands on deck if we’re going to make this happen,” Nolte says. “It’s vitally important that is happen this session. Some of these projects, like the Ford project, there is no real next year on this one.”

Nolte says Ford is making a decision now on what might replace the Escape production line and whether it will keep the production and the jobs in Kansas City. Ford employs nearly 4,000 workers at the Claycomo plant.

The Missouri Automotive Jobs Task Force reports that automotive manufacturing is a $4 billion industry in Missouri. Its 2009 report states that automotive products represent 18% of the state export market. The Center for Automotive Research says the industry reaches in to nearly every county in Missouri.

AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:60 MP3]