Sunday, August 23, 2009

Week 32: Nixon's Grade


Governor Nixon played mourner-in-chief and glad-hander in chief all within 24 hours last week, from honoring the deaths of civil rights leader Margaret Bush Wilson and Gov. Warren Hearnes to pressing flesh at the Missouri State Fair. But his ceremonial obligations didn't hide the tough decisions he's had to face in his first year. His administration released the specifics of $60 million dollars in cuts and the bulk came from the Department of Social Services. Even worse: this could just be the tip of the iceberg. Amy Blouin of the Missouri Budget Project told the Kansas City Star, "we're definitely expecting more withholds and reductions." The cuts came in the same week that federal officials denied the state's request for $133 million to fund unemployment benefits. But as his budget director articulated, Nixon has clearly tried to focus his budget cuts on state workers before services, "to reduce the size of state government." That, in itself, is a conservative principal, that his rivals may have a difficult time attacking. And while GOP operative John Hancock Tweeted a question about whether anyone was going to examine why Nixon "can't manage a budget," no other Republicans were found launching similar criticisms. In fact, House Budget Chair Allen Icet, also a candidate for state auditor said, making the cuts in the summer means "emergency action is less likely to be needed in the spring." In other words, might as well get out in front of the tough stuff. And if you thought there couldn't be any good news about E.Coli in Missouri, you were mistaken. The Department of Natural Resources released a study (of course they did!) showing E.Coli levels in Lake of the Ozarks safely below federal standards. Nixon can only hope the level of scrutiny surrounding his administration's role in E.Coli-gate is incrementally dropping with it.

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