Saturday, July 18, 2009
This week's tussle over state funding of the Tour of Missouri bicycle race was mostly a political spitting contest.
The race, scheduled for early September and including a stopover in Cape Girardeau, is a pet project of Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder. a Republican who also serves as the chairman of the Missouri Tourism Commission.
Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat, has a responsibility to make sure the state's budget is balanced and has considerable discretion over withholding or vetoing funds.
The flap over funding for the bike race is an indication of what to expect for the next three-plus years.
The Tour of Missouri draws top cyclists from around the world. Both of Cape Girardeau's hospitals, Saint Francis Medical Center and Southeast Missouri Hospital, have generously donated a total of $40,000 to local organizers who say they still need to raise almost that much more.
The governor could have satisfied his concerns about how the state's money is spent by simply asking. Instead, he made a big deal of cutting the funding and then changing his mind. This is one faceoff that didn't need to happen, particularly at the risk of compromising an event that has turned into a good boost for the state both in image and revenue.