Tim Skubick: John Nixon leaves his mark on Michigan - KMSP-TV

Tim Skubick: John Nixon leaves his mark on Michigan

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LANSING, Mich. (WJBK) -

You knew from the get-go this guy would be a hoot to cover.

Over the years Michigan governor's have been blessed with a host of well-qualified budget directors.  Gov. Bill Milliken had his Jerry Miller.  Gov. John Engler had Doug Roberts. Gov.Jennifer Granholm had Bobby Emerson and Governor Rick Snyder had, about to be past tense, Big John Nixon.

Mr. Nixon was recruited from Utah and was in on the ground floor of the Snyder-reinvention agenda which included getting the ship of state out of choppy deficit waters and on a more even keel.  Even Democrats have to concede the ship is not as tipsy as it was four years ago.

But Mr. Nixon is leaving.

He'll return to his beloved Utah with the university as it's main money man and from there who knows.  University president? Candidate for Governor. Or national budget director if some GOP candidate can finally get to the White House.

Mr. Nixon's first day on the job was noteworthy for its humor.

If you cover this state government stuff, it's mandatory you have some sort of a working relationship with the chief bean counter. And Mr. Nixon was a totally unknown quanity being from a state so far from Michigan that it was almost another country.

Gov. Snyder's communications director ushered a certain reporter into one of the back rooms in the governor's executive sutie.

There stood this mountain of a man, sans hair, looking like he should have a football tackles number on his jersey with a broad smile.

The reporter reached out, "Welcome to Michigan.  You should know that everything they have told you about me, is not true."

The gamer Mr. Nixon shoot back, "Well then it must not be true that you are the best political reporter in the state."

The two were going to get along just fine and a four year journey begin.

There were bumps.  He took a hit for his jefty $250,000 salary running not one but two state departments and earning more than the governor.

The first budget was filled with controversial stuff as the reinvention agenda took shape.

The governor and budget guy were both CPA's which meant the state budget was on their nightstand at home instead of some juicy political novel.  The relationship worked for them but now it's over. You have to assume the governor made a pitch to keep his transplant planted here but the lure of going back home to Utah was too much of a siren song as the money package, the chance to be around his parents, and a shot at a "normal" life was just too much.

So off he goes having left a mark he can be proud of and looking forward to what might be down the road.

God's speed Nix.

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