WHAT OTHERS SAY: The underlying message: More shared pain

Friday, January 20, 2012 | 1:12 p.m. CST

The interpretation is inconsistent with the data.

"Because of our strong leadership," Gov. Jay Nixonsaid during Tuesday’s State of the State address, "Missouri is once again moving forward."

Forward motion, however, is not evident in the budget and policy proposals he advanced.

How is cutting funding for higher education — preparation for the jobs of the future — consistent with progress on employment and economic development?

And how is eliminating 816 jobs in state government — while remaining state employees receive a pay raise — consistent with progress in responding to Missouri residents and delivering services?

In Nixon's defense, his service as chief executive has dovetailed with an economic downturn that has slashed Missouri’s revenues. The projected shortfall for the coming budget year is $500 million.

In addition, Missouri’s Constitution — unlike its federal counterpart — requires a balanced budget.

Faced with less revenue and a prohibition against borrowing, Nixon has made cuts.

He described the aggregate Tuesday when he said: “Since taking office, I’ve cut government spending by $1.6 billion.”

He added: "And, with the balanced budget I present tonight, I’ll have reduced the government’s payroll by 4,100 positions."

In central Missouri, the proposed 12.5 percent higher education cuts will translate into $2,426,708 less for Lincoln University and $642,460 less for Linn State Tech, when compared to current budget year appropriations.

These proposed actions conflict with stated intentions.

An emphasis on jobs is not reflected by cutting funds to the institutions dedicated to training and educating the future workforce.

Similarly, eliminating more state jobs contributes to unemployment, particularly here in the capital.

The cuts outlined in Nixon’s address may reflect reality, but they do not denote progress.

The underlying message is we will continue sharing pain while we anticipate a time to begin "moving forward."

Copyright Jefferson City News Tribune. Reprinted with permission.

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Jimmy Bearfield January 20, 2012 | 1:23 p.m.

Maybe we should look east for a model of how to move forward. For example, Illinois raised income taxes 67%, and it's still $8.5B in debt and still expects to continue paying contractors and suppliers several months after they've invoiced. Even farther east, high-tax states such as New York, New Jersey and Connecticut always have too much month at the end of the money.

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