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Snyder budget chief leaves for academia

Michigan State Budget Director, John Nixon.
Snyder's budget chief, John Nixon, is leaving to return to his home state of Utah.

Gov. Rick Snyder’s influential budget chief is leaving the administration to take a job in his native state. John Nixon will depart March 1 for the University of Utah.

Nixon pushed very hard to pay down long-term debt, put more money into the state’s savings account, and get public employees to pay a bigger share of their benefits.

“We’ve been able to do some pretty impressive stuff,” said Nixon. “I know the budget’s in structural balance. I think we’ve laid a strong fiscal foundation for the state that’s going to help move it into the future.”

Nixon and Governor Snyder presented the administration’s new budget proposal last week. Snyder says Nixon’s departure does not signal a change in direction.

“The way I view this is there is no radical shift here. This is basically continue to build on one of the strongest budget foundations – that we’ve built on the last three years – let’s just build on it and we’ve got talented people to continue that.” 

Nixon’s quarter-of-a-million dollar salary raised eyebrows in Lansing when he was hired. His successors will not make as much. The governor has tapped deputy John Roberts to be the new budget director. Chief information officer David Behan will take over Nixon’s responsibilities as the director of the Department of Technology, Management and Budget.           

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.