Bob Holden: The First 140 Days

Feature written by James Baughn on Monday, May 28, 2001

from the one-missouri-one-big-mess dept.

The first 100 days of George Dubya Bush's administration received copious amounts of attention by the media. However, for Missourians, Former State Treasurer Bob "Weaselface" Holden has far more influence over day-to-day life than President Bush could ever dream of.

How has Bob Holden fared during his first 140 days in office? Keep reading for The Cape Rock's obviously biased analysis of the opening days of the Holden administration.

The Inauguration

Bob Holden may very well be the first Governor in Missouri history to break a campaign promise on the first day in office.

During his 2000 campaign, Holden spent a great deal of time harping on his theme of keeping "Missouri's fiscal house in order."

So what does he do on the first day? He blows over one million dollars, including $125,000 in taxpayer money, on the most extravagant inauguration in Missouri history.

So much for financial responsibility.

One would expect that a former State Treasurer would have enough financial acumen to avoid incurring a huge debt for something that served exclusively as an exercise in ego-boosting. However, Bob Holden still owes $200,000 for his lavish inauguration celebration.

It's not a good sign when the person in charge of the state's finances has difficulty keeping his own personal finances out of the red.

State of the State Address

Bob Holden may very well be the first Governor in Missouri history to advocate increasing and decreasing the state's budget at the same time.

He said during his State of the State Address, "We are a fiscally conservative state and will remain so during my administration." And later, "...the first priority of this legislative session must be to tighten our belts and deliver a balanced budget."

However, he then advocated all kinds of new state programs that will (of course) cost money. He wanted more money for education, more money for domestic violence programs, more money for transportation, more money for health care for women and seniors... more, more, more!

And by the way, did I mention more?

So much for financial responsibility.

The Governor's Staff

Bob Holden may very well be the first Governor in Missouri history to create three new positions in his office even though the state can't afford to give its employees a raise.

While other departments tighten their belts, the Governor's office will feature three officials, each with a salary of around $120,000, to work on "cross-agency" issues. Missouri doesn't even have enough money to run the fountains at the Capitol, but rest assured that won't prevent Bob Holden from handing out large salaries to his cronies so they can occupy an additional layer of bureaucracy.

So much for financial responsibility.

State Workers

Bob Holden is certainly not the first Governor in Missouri history to give the shaft to state employees.

John Ashcroft mastered this skill during his administration, in which no state worker received a raise. Meanwhile, taxes increased significantly, so Ashcroft had no room to complain about a "tight budget".

Now, during the Holden administration, the same situation is unfolding.

I suppose it doesn't matter that much, though, because all of the truly qualified employees have long since fled Missouri to other states where the pay actually keeps pace with inflation.

Conclusion

Republicans in Jefferson City have given Bob Holden the nickname of "One Run Bob". While it might be too early to predict whether he will get clobbered in the 2004 election, I think it's safe to say that the first 140 days of his administration have started on the wrong foot.