"Change begins today, at this hour, in this place." With these words, Matt Blunt became Missouri's governor at noon on Monday. And like everyone else in the state, we'll hold him to those words. At the same time, we truly believe he and the Republican majority in the Legislature are able to deliver that change.
As with virtually every governor in the country, Blunt said education would remain his top priority. And quite frankly, it's hard to argue with that priority. For starters, voters want the education of our children to garner the most attention. That's the easy part. What will be much more difficult will be to raise achievement levels to a degree that the public actually believes change is under way. Education achievement is not dependent solely on more tax dollars. Achievement is tied directly to parental involvement. How to achieve that goal is allusive. It may even be out of reach.
Blunt said more jobs and a smaller and more responsible government would follow closely behind education in his list of goals. Well jobs are largely created by removing barriers for business to operate in our state. A right-to-
work initiative would top that list. Without a push in that direction, neighboring state with right-to-work legislation will continue to win the jobs for which we compete.
But the greatest area of promise in the Blunt administration will be a smaller and more responsible government. With large majorities in both the House and Senate, it appears the Republicans have a good chance of downsizing state government. It's hard to argue with that goal given the size of Missouri state government in comparison to other states.
If the Republicans are unable to achieve these goals in some measurable way, then election day in 2006 may not be kind to the Grand Old Party. And by golly, that's exactly the way it should be. With some exceptions, there should be no excuse why the Republican-dominated state government can't implement some of the programs and policies they have long advocated. It won't be a cakewalk because there will be opposition at every step of the way. But political might should be sufficient to allow the GOP the freedom they have long coveted. The clock is ticking.
Blunt brings energy and intellect to the office. And he's so much smarter than his predecessor that he is unlikely to repeat the blunders that plagued the Holden administration.
So all of the pieces of the puzzle are in place. Come May, when the end of the current legislative session draws to a close, we expect the fulfillment of the promises outlined Monday. And given the domination of one party in Jefferson City, we believe those promises will be addressed.