Steven Bernstetter

Looks like Gov. Blunt and friends will get their MOHELA money after all. At this juncture, pointing out just how ridiculous this bill is has become something akin to beating a dead horse. Except this horse won't die, and instead just keeps mutating into something, well, less horse-like and more closely resembling the gross piece of political waste it truly is. So let the beating continue.



For a good synopsis of how it all went down, go here. Basically, those politicians who opposed the bill, on whatever grounds, had their projects stripped and the funds redistributed to more politically friendly districts. No political soup for you, conscientious objectors! However, the most egregious example of wasted political capital lies in the still unfavorable appraisal of pro-life groups who so effectively derailed the original plan to drive Missouri's budding biotech industry. Blunt and Co. claim the bill's passage as a success, but as the Springfield News-Leader so accurately surmises:

What the state's universities still need is a commitment from lawmakers that funding levels — including for much needed construction projects — will match the important role our institutions of higher education play in being a driving economic engine in Missouri. What our colleges and universities need is a commitment that Democrats and Republicans from all corners of the state recognize their incredible value. The passage of SB 389 didn't accomplish that goal. Victory is still out of reach.

Indeed. Missouri has so much potential to be a future leader inthe life sciences, its almost unfathomable that the state's leaders could be so ineffective as catalysts in realizing that potential. As a recent editorial in the STL P-D proclaimed:

It's difficult to think of another state in a better position to lead research into bio-energy and agricultural defense. We have some of the nation's leading research institutions — the Danforth Center, Washington University, St. Louis University and the University of Missouri-Columbia. We have agricultural powerhouses like Monsanto and energy companies like Peabody Coal. And, of course, we sit astride the most productive farmland the world has ever known.

It's not too late for legislators to set aside money that only could be used if the federal research grants are awarded to Missouri companies and universities.

The question is whether they want to invest in the future, or run from it.

At this stage of the game, "run from it" seems to be the preferred strategy. But where exactly are we running to? Straight into the arms of whatever is most politically expedient, apparently. That means pet projects for the legislators willing to play "follow the leader" with Gov. Blunt, elmination of the most universally beneficial provisions at the behest of special interests, and the perpetual disappointment of those sincerely trying to help Missouri before they help themselves.

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Steven Bernstetter