Gov. Bob Holden delivered the annual State of the State address Wednesday to give Missourians a glimpse of the plans for government in the upcoming session of the General Assembly. The speech was long on style and somewhat short on substance but that's normal.
Holden spent much of the time talking about the educational needs which is the traditional fallback for government. Few among us - if any - could argue against improving education for our children. There is, however, much less agreement on just how that is to be done.
Holden, in my opinion at least, spent far too much time discussing our home security initiatives in response to the Sept. 11 tragedies. I most certainly could be proven incorrect but I believe most home security efforts are simply knee-jerk reactions to the Sept. 11 tragedy and I do not believe it should take up the priorities of the state. Long after the terrorist hype has passed we'll still need to address transportation and education needs as well as how to fund medical benefits for the poor. But that's just me perhaps.
Holden said the state would meet its budget requirements without an across-the-board tax increase. But just the day before, his party's top leaders unveiled a massive tax increase package that will impact anyone who buys gasoline or alcohol or cigarettes. In other words, an across-the-board tax increase.
The House Democrats want to combine transportation and education in one bill that would require millions if not a billion dollar tax increase. Holden will back this package or something similar. So it does little good to scoff at tax hikes now and then support them in the weeks and months ahead.
I personally think the idea of combining tax hikes for both transportation and education is a bad one. I may favor new money for education but oppose new transportation funding. So that approach would cost far too many votes and sacrifice some issues that are urgently needed. But there's ample time to debate these measures as the session gets under way.
All in all, Holden had his day in the sun. The Governor should realize however that it's easier to give speeches than to provide leadership. His past performance could mean a rocky road ahead in Missouri politics.