Here's the state of the financial picture in Missouri this year. Revenues for the state coffers are so low that Gov. Bob Holden wants to borrow $135 million from the state's Rainy Day Fund. The budget crunch is so severe that virtually all state services short of Medicaid and education have been cut on orders from the administration. To address this major shortfall, a handful of new taxes is being proposed on everything from small businesses to cigarette sales.
And in the middle of this discussion, Gov. Holden this week asked for a $1 million handout to fund a taskforce visit to Detroit in an attempt to convince the Ford Motor Company not to shutdown a St. Louis plant. This comes after Ford officials have said there is nothing that can be done to reverse their decision to close the plant and eliminate the nearly 2,600 jobs there.
Holden seems bent on shoring-up his political base in St. Louis and with the union workers in this 11th hour effort that seems doomed from the very beginning. The state, it seems to me, should move their focus on replacing the jobs in St. Louis instead of mounting what appears to be a useless effort in Detroit.
This whole mess makes me wonder if Holden and company would expend the same effort and resources for a plant closing in our area. I believe the answer would be no. But Holden's base is clearly in the urban centers and more specifically with the union vote. So spending $1 million when all other services are being cut seems more political that practical. But that has been a consistent trend in the Holden statehouse.
When Ford announced their nationwide reductions, the company said there was nothing that would change their decision. And I can appreciate the state's effort in fighting for these important jobs. But I strongly question the need for a $1 million budget to fight what appears to be a losing battle. Rest assured, Holden will remind the union members and the St. Louis voters of his efforts when it comes time to vote.
The state does indeed work tirelessly to replace jobs lost in this state and even in our region. But if you compare the efforts in St. Louis against similar actions outstate, you begin to see a pattern emerge that makes you wonder about the priorities of state government.