May 22, 2003

What if?

by Chris Feeney

What if we all had veto power? How many of us wouldn't love to have that power? It would be nice to be able to go against the majority simply so you could get your own way. Well Governor Bob Holden has started down that path this week as he announced he will veto the first in a number of budget issues that were approved by the Missouri House of Representatives. Holden surrounded himself with a number of children with developmental disabilities as he told reporters he will veto House Bill 10, which sets the budget for such state agencies as the Department of Mental Health.

There are 17 more house budget bills that will be coming down the pike and because of massive budget deficiencies they all likely will be forced to make serious cutbacks across the board. I'm curious to see how our Governor will wield his veto club once he gets rolling.

No one wants to see needy children go without services so the choice for the photo opportunities was well planned. The governor's PR department is probably already lining up senior citizens, school teachers, disabled veterans and as many other powerful images he can use to offset his decisions to veto other budget cuts in the next few days.

The only problem is, that while we can sympathize with these images and can agree that it's a shame money must be cut from the budgets that provide these state services, it does us absolutely no good to simply say we can't cut the budget. Let's face it folks - we have to cut the budget. We can not simply stick our heads underground like an ostrich waiting to come up for air after the nightmarish economy has healed itself.

If you look at every reliable budget project, our state's budget issues will get worse before they get better. Yet instead of trying to work together to come up with acceptable solutions to the money crunch it seems most of our politicians would rather hide behind the political game. Obviously it's a tough issue to solve. Still it is so maddening to watch politicians point fingers at the other side and spout babble about whose fault it is instead of trying to find the solution. Sure making budget cuts is a tough proposition because no matter what you do you're going to make someone mad at you. I also realize that purposely making someone mad at you is the last thing a politician wants to do. But unless these guys start making some tough decisions, taking responsibility for the actions that must be made to fix the budget, we are just going to continue to spin our wheels.

Maybe I'm simplifying the issue too much but there seem to be two options. It's just like the little kid that goes to the store with a dollar and goes through the checkout and the salesclerk says his total is $1.25. He can either put something back or go ask mom for some more money. That's what state government has to do. I guess the shopping kid analogy really works here. Because just like the kid, politicians don't want to put anything back. They don't want to cut any expenditures because that may damage their job security. If you don't fund their special interest then they won't fund your campaign. On the other hand, no one wants to go ask mom for money, especially in these tough economic times. It's really hard to convince mom you need more cash when she sees some of the junk you're buying with her hard earned dough.

Personally I'd rather see our government take a few things out of the cart to put back on the shelves because this parent feels like he is already giving more than his fair share of money away.

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