Our Opinion: Leadership amid adversity

News Tribune editorial

A test for a chief executive is the quality of leadership amid adversity.

By that yardstick, Gov. Jay Nixon has earned re-election.

The incumbent Democrat is being challenged by Republican Dave Spence, a businessman and political newcomer, in the Nov. 6 election.

During Nixon’s first four years, Missouri has not been immune to the persistent, nationwide economic downturn.

Unlike the feeble federal propensity to amass more debt rather than make tough decisions, Missouri is obligated by its constitution to balance its budget.

Nixon has opted to cut expenses rather than raise taxes. Admittedly, we have not always supported the cuts Nixon has made, particularly those that affect state workers.

As observers of Missouri government, we are acutely aware of the valuable services provided by state employees. We believe workforce cuts diminish morale among state workers who, according to studies, are the most underpaid in comparison to their peers in other states.

We must acknowledge, however, that Nixon has attempted to cushion the blow by eliminating jobs through attrition and by supporting a recent pay raise.

Most important, he has worked with lawmakers to craft and approve a balanced budget that minimizes pain for Missourians.

As governor, Nixon also:

• Has been actively engaged in economic development, courting major manufacturers, supporting expansion at the Callaway Nuclear Plant and promoting job growth at small businesses throughout the state.

• Has built consensus by creating or supporting task forces and panels to deal with vital issues, including punishment for driving while intoxicated, reform of state tax incentives and review of criminal sentences.

• Has responded quickly and effectively to natural disasters, including the tornado that devastated Joplin and the drought that plagued the state this summer.

Nixon’s tenure has not been void of miscues. Among them has been a tendency to transfer his office’s travel expenses to other state agencies.

Overall, however, we must commend the governor for providing steady leadership during turbulent times. He has faced repeated challenges and emerged resilient.

He deserves re-election on Nov. 6.

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