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Opinion: Senator, this dog won't hunt

Tuesday, June 4, 2002

By Jim Kreider

NIXA, Mo. -- This is a response to state Sen. Peter Kinder's May 26 column: Senator, that dog won't hunt.

The old tax-and-spend liberal charge might work as you're out stumping for the ball stadium with fat-cat campaign donors in St. Louis, but here in the Ozarks folks are smarter than that. Here, common sense is king.

No, sir. This session was not about taxes. It was about priorities and leadership. You failed on both counts.

Fact: Your No. 1 priority was the ball stadium for St. Louis.

Fact: My No. 1 priority was education.

My priorities are in line. There is nothing more important in state government than investing in the education of our children.

I make no apologies for appointing myself to the conference committees for the budget and holding out for more funds for education. Sometimes when you believe in something strongly enough, you have to roll up your own sleeves and get a little dirt on your hands.

I rolled up my sleeves for our children. But you rolled up yours to help millionaire businessmen who can fund your campaigns.

More importantly, Senator, you failed the test of leadership. Anyone can sit back and criticize in times of crisis, but it takes leadership to govern, to cut programs and to invest in the future.

Teddy Roosevelt said it best: "It is not the critic that counts. ... The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena ... whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood."

For months leading up to the legislative session, you and I read the same grim budget projections. For months, I warned that the perfect storm was brewing and we needed to prepare. You sat back and saw it as the perfect opportunity to make political hay.

Senator, you continue to forget that leadership is more than a fancy title. And it certainly is more than a party label. It is about tough choices and priorities.

I continue to be re-elected in a district that leans heavily to the other direction because I am not afraid to make tough choices and because my priorities have always been in line with constituents in Southwest Missouri, where common sense is king.

Jim Kreider is the speaker of the Missouri House of Representatives.


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