Sen. Kit Bond gave an economic lesson to Gov. Bob Holden this week though it's doubtful Holden is listening. Missouri's senior Senator was responding to reports that the nation's governors are looking to the federal government to bail out states hard-pressed by a sluggish economy. Missouri is among those states facing a significant revenue shortfall.
Sen. Bond recalled that nearly 20 years ago, he faced an identical crisis when he was Missouri's governor. At that time Bond faced a $270 million shortfall in revenue which is very similar to the adjusted-for-inflation amount that has Holden on the hot seat.
"I didn't cry to the feds," Bond said. "We took a lot of tough measures - we had to lay off state employees; we had to cut back on an increase in expenditures in a lot of areas. And we got through it."
And there, my friends, is a lesson in conservative, live-within-your-means politics that Bob Holden and his predecessor never learned. Same can be said for countless other big government advocates who never met a government program they didn't like.
Bond said turning over more federal dollars to the state to balance their budgets and shore-up their general revenues was just not realistic. In all the states they are facing a total of nearly $50 billion in revenue shortfalls. But too many elected officials fear voter fallout if they make reductions in services even if those services are crippling the state budgets.
Congressman Roy Blunt weighed into the matter also this week. Blunt said states don't want to make difficult choices now that bills are coming due from the prosperous 1990s. But he too said it is unrealistic to look to the federal government to bail out the states.
With the balance of power nearly equal in Washington, the discussion on state bail-outs will surface again and again. We hope Congress holds the line on spending and forces states to reduce costly programs and over-bloated payrolls. It may not be pleasant but it is far superior to the alternative.
Bond and Blunt and others have an excellent point. Unfortunately those points are lost on Holden and others.