Recent Missouri Editorials

October 8, 2019 GMT

Jefferson City News-Tribune, Oct. 8

State government honors show improvement

The Missouri state government deserves kudos for being recognized in a new report that honors states for excellence in government.

The nonprofit group Results for America broke its report into 15 categories, offering “promising examples” and “leading examples” in most categories. It listed Missouri as a promising example of good government in three categories: performance management/continuous improvement, outcome data and innovation.

Performance management or continuous improvement focused on if states implemented performance management systems that would align with statewide strategic goals.

Part of Missouri’s recognition in this category was from creating a position of Missouri chief operating officer in 2017. It is currently held by Drew Erdmann. His close work with all 16 executive branch departments helps to define their strategic priorities and achieve results, according to a news release from the governor’s office.

Another reason for the recognition: Missouri’s website that includes each department’s strategic placemat and the departments’ use of performance data for core programs as part of the annual budget process.

In March 2019, the state started publishing the data on the Missouri Budget Explorer website.

It was also highlighted in the outcome data category, which focuses on how states report or require outcome data for state-funded programs during budget processes, and whether they reported any.

The website provides easier to understand, graphic breakdowns of the state budget, including specific department budget summaries, detailed legislative budget bills and the “Show-Me Checkbook,” which breaks down the state treasurer’s financial data. The leading example in this category was Colorado.

The final category where Missouri was named as a promising example was innovation, specifically state policies or staff that encouraged innovation to improve outcomes.

Missouri’s recently-launched Show Me Challenge was highlighted. The program encourages state employees to pitch innovative ways to better serve citizens, cut out unnecessary bureaucratic work, and save time and money.

Gov. Mike Parson said the state is committed to common-sense management, and the results of the new study show Missouri is making progress. We hope the state can continue to do so and become a leading example in various categories in the future.

The Kansas City Star, Oct. 4

Gov. Parson’s random attack on national anthem protests is an obvious political ploy

Apropos of nothing, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson decided this week to not-so-boldly wade into the three-year-old controversy surrounding NFL players who kneel during the national anthem.

While questions about pregame protests and players calling attention to inequality and police brutality were front and center during the 2016 and 2017 seasons, the on-field issue has faded over time, with far fewer players taking a knee this year.

Either Parson didn’t get the memo, or the governor has just plain run out of ideas as he casts about for inspiration in his quest to castigate the “extreme left.” He’s awfully late to this debate — perhaps the governor would like to weigh in on what’s wrong with “New Coke” while he’s at it.

With all the urgent issues facing Missouri — 120,000 people have lost Medicaid coverage, gun violence has increased dramatically in the state, and the president’s trade wars have left local farmers reliant on government bailouts — Parson chose this moment to denounce kneeling?

On Parson’s personal Twitter account, the governor wrote: “The worst part of where the extreme left is going is how they openly disrespect the American flag and kneel instead of stand during our National Anthem. I’ll always stand for our flag and for our country.”

If the tweet seems a bit like a bolt out of the blue — not to mention contradictory to the views Parson has voiced in the past — it was.

Just last year, Parson paid a visit to Chiefs training camp and said that while kneeling is not something he agrees with, players have a right to express themselves.

“We all have individual freedoms in this country,” Parson said then. He was absolutely correct.

So why the change of heart, Governor? The fact that you have a campaign to run next year surely has nothing to do with this seemingly random flip-flop — right?

Campaign manager Steele Shippy said Parson believes that Democrats are trying to tear apart the fabric of the foundation of America.

“Free speech works both ways,” Shippy said. “We want folks to stand up for the American Dream.”

A national conversation about patriotism began in 2016 after former San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick knelt during the national anthem to send an important message about social justice issues. Other NFL players soon followed, drawing the ire of conservatives around the country and President Donald Trump.

But how is exercising one’s First Amendment right with a silent protest an attack on America? The explanation offered by the governor’s campaign rings hollow, and deservedly, online criticism of Parson has been pointed and swift.

One Twitter user wrote: “Kneeling for the anthem to protest police brutality & racism does not disrespect our flag or our country. What disrespects our country is an unelected Gov throwing tens of thousands of children off Medicaid...”

“Parroting GOP talking points of distraction is not leadership,” wrote another.

Kansas City, of course, is the only Missouri city with an NFL team. And not one Chiefs player has protested the anthem or the flag since Marcus Peters was sent packing last year.

So, what, exactly, is agitating the governor?

Armed with the advantages of incumbency and a curiously early endorsement from President Donald Trump, Parson appears well-positioned for the 2020 Republican gubernatorial primary. But the anthem tweet is unquestionably a politician ploy, suggesting that perhaps the governor is running a bit scared.

Parson, who has an actual record to campaign on, certainly can do better than seeking to divide the state by lobbing political grenades solely for the purpose of scoring points with his base.

The governor should focus on explaining to all Missouri voters his priorities for the state going forward. And while politicking via Twitter is risky business, Parson is going to need to be much quicker on the draw if he wants to take a stand on social media.

The Joplin Globe, Oct. 4

Missouri deaths increase, but many could have been prevented

Missouri resident deaths reached a record high for the sixth consecutive year, according to a report last month from the Bureau of Vital Statistics, a division of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.

Total deaths across the state increased by 2%, from 61,866 in 2017 to 63,110 last year, reflecting Missouri’s aging population, the report said. Most of the top leading causes of death remain unchanged and include diseases and illnesses currently under research for better cures and treatment, such as cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease and diabetes.

But what shocks us is just how many of these deaths — primarily those that are due to external factors — could have been prevented.

— The largest percentage increases in deaths were for pneumonia and influenza (15.1 and suicide (6.6%). The pneumonia and influenza mortality rate reflects a serious flu epidemic in early 2018.

— Death rates for people aged 15-24 and 25-44 rose nearly 30% from 2012 to 2018. The death rate for people aged 25-34 is at its highest level since the 1950s.

— From 2008 to 2018, suicides increased by 53.5%.

— From 2008 to 2018, accidental deaths increased by 33.6%. Most of that is attributed to drug overdoses.

— Opioid-related deaths doubled from 468 in 2008 to 1,132 in 2018. Fentanyl was the principal drug, contributing to nearly 75% of opioid-related deaths.

— Firearm-related deaths increased by more than 50% from 2008 to 2018, when there were 726 firearm-related suicides and 557 firearm-related homicides.

Missouri, we don’t have to keep dying like this. In most cases, we unfortunately can’t control whether we’ll be struck by cancer or develop Alzheimer’s, but we can control whether we get our flu shot this fall or check in with our neighbor who has expressed suicidal thoughts in the past.

We can and should create a better quality of life for ourselves by getting our flu shots regularly and investing in suicide prevention efforts and programs that help with substance abuse and opioid addiction. Our state will be healthier for it — and our lives longer for it.