Crying Out For Leadership - The Missourian: Opinion

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Crying Out For Leadership

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Posted: Wednesday, November 28, 2012 5:00 pm

As plans are being made by lawmakers for the 2013 session of the Missouri General Assembly, an issue that should be given a high priority is transportation, particularly our highway and bridge needs. Simply put, more revenue is needed to meet those needs.

The Legislature and Gov. Jay Nixon have turned their backs on any kind of a tax increase for transportation. With term limits for both lawmakers and the governor, there should be less concern about doing anything that may cost them votes. Missouri needs a leader, either from the governor’s mansion, or from the Legislature, to champion the cause of transportation. We need a leader who isn’t afraid to address needs and propose solutions.

Monday’s St. Louis Post-Dispatch had an excellent editorial titled “Invest in Missouri.” We would add to that headline the words, “Invest in the State Rather Than Your Own Political Careers.” We have too many public officials who put their political careers first and the state’s needs somewhat lower.

The editorial pointed out that about a month ago, the state made its last payment on a bond issue that was passed in 1982 when Kit Bond was governor. The bond issue was called the Third State Building Bonds. It was a $600 million bond issue that called for building roads, parks and public buildings, including structures for education. The editorial said that bond money, used over a period of years, “is seen today in buildings on university campuses, on highways and at state parks and mental health facilities.”

Voters approved those “Invest in Missouri” bonds that boosted economic growth with public construction projects. The Post said the time has come to repeat history. We agree.

In today’s dollars that would mean about $1.4 billion in bonds. Low interest rates today, with the state’s AAA credit rating, with the state’s low position in debt, now would be the ideal time to invest in the state with a bond issue. Voters approved those $600 million in bonds in 1982 after a spirited statewide leadership effort by Gov. Bond and leaders in the General Assembly.

We believe another “Invest in Missouri” bond issue could gain approval with the right kind of campaign that would include telling voters what the money would be used for, and how the bonds would be retired.

Missourians are conservative when it comes to taxes and state spending.The fact is the state can afford this type of financing. Voters, lawmakers and Gov. Bond weren’t afraid to move forward 30 years ago. Do we have the strength in leadership in Jefferson City today to repeat history? Missourians await an answer.

/opinion