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Sunday, Aug. 28, 2016

Memo could be the state's Watergate

Sunday, March 2, 2003

There is a fascinating bit of intrigue brewing in Jefferson City that will boggle your mind. And at the very least it should have you mad as a wet hen at the same time.

It seems that the Governor's office in Missouri has threatened to fire employees of the Department of Natural Resources if they cooperate with the General Assembly in recommending budget cuts. As of late Friday when this story first broke, there is no confirmation of the origin of the internal memo. But believe me, in the next week someone will answer for this asinine move. And heads may indeed roll.

The memo tells the DNR employees to be uncooperative with requests for budget information and warns that complying with the General Assembly is a "firing offense."

The political struggle in Jefferson City has pitted the Democratic Governor's office against the Republican-controlled General Assembly. The GOP believes that more cuts can be made to state spending instead of heaping more tax increases on Missouri residents. The Governor's office says all the cuts possible have been made and more revenue is needed. And within this political struggle comes this damning memo.

If this memo proves to be true and if it originated in the office of Governor Bob Holden then someone must answer for this obstructionist approach. It is inconceivable that the Governor or any other state employee would actually encourage stonewalling in our current budget crisis. This could well prove to be Missouri's Watergate if the allegations are indeed true.

The Governor has threatened to cut education spending to balance the budget and resisted any additional cuts in other areas of the state. He earlier rejected a Republican idea to carry over less money into the coming year. Cuts have been made already in an attempt to balance a $750 million shortfall in state revenue. But the cuts still come up $100 million or so short. That's where the battleground is currently centered.

The Republican leadership on Friday called on the Governor to immediately pass the word to state departments to cooperate with any effort to recommend reductions in spending. Without that level of cooperation, our state will surely suffer. And the thought of threatening to fire a state worker simply for cooperating with the Legislature smacks of tactics that should be eliminated.

If you think about it, the employees are the ones who would better know where cuts can be made and tax dollars saved. If they are ordered to keep that information away from members of the Legislature, something is terribly wrong.

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