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Governor Bob Holden Reflects on His Term

Missouri Governor Bob Holden is leaving office January 10 and Republican Matt Blunt will be sworn into office. Holden lost in the Democratic Primary to State Auditor Claire McCaskill, who lost to Blunt in the General Election. KSMU's Missy Shelton recently spoke with outgoing Governor Bob Holden about his four years in office.

SHELTON: DEMOCRATIC GOVERNOR BOB HOLDEN WAS SWORN IN TO OFFICE IN JANUARY, 2001. FROM THE VERY BEGINNING, THERE WERE CONTROVERSIES.

THERE WAS THE LAVISH INAUGURAL THAT LEFT HIM WITH BILLS FROM VENDORS TOTALING 350 THOUSAND DOLLARS...HE RECEIVED HELP PAYING THAT OFF FROM SOME LABOR UNION CONTRIBUTORS...HOLDEN LATER CONCEDED HE SHOULDN'T HAVE SPENT SO MUCH MONEY ON THE INAUGURATION.

THEN, REPUBLICANS WON CONTROL OF THE STATE SENATE.

ALSO THAT YEAR, THERE WAS A DROP IN STATE REVENUES, FORCING ELECTED OFFICIALS TO MAKE TOUGH CHOICES ABOUT GOVERNMENT SPENDING.

AND TWO YEARS INTO HIS TERM, REPUBLICANS WON A MAJORITY OF SEATS IN THE STATE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES.

IT WAS IN HIS LAST TWO YEARS, THAT HE AND REPUBLICAN LEGISLATIVE LEADERS HAD INTENSE BATTLES OVER THE STATE BUDGET AND HOLDEN'S PROPOSALS TO RAISE TAXES.

BUT HOLDEN SUPPORTERS POINT TO THE POSITIVE ASPECTS OF HIS ADMINISTRATION: HE WAS THE FIRST GOVERNOR IN THE NATION TO APPOINT A HOMELAND SECURITY DIRECTOR AFTER THE TERRORIST ATTACKS OF SEPTEMBER 11TH. HE SIGNED LEGISLATION EXTENDING THE STATE'S HEALTH INSURANCE PROGRAM FOR CHILDREN AND A BILL REQUIRING INSURANCE COMPANIES TO GIVE WOMEN DIRECT ACCESS TO O-B/G-Y-N SERVICES.

WITH ALL THIS BEHIND HIM, BOB HOLDEN RECENTLY TOOK A FEW MINUTES TO REFLECT ON HIS ONE TERM AS GOVERNOR.

SHELTON: GOVERNOR, WHAT ACCOMPLISHMENTS ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF?

HOLDEN: PROTECTING THE RIGHT PRIORITIES--EDUCATION FUNDING, HEALTHCARE, HELPING THE ECONOMY TRANSITION, HELPING US THROUGH THE NATIONAL CRISIS OF 9/11.

SHELTON: IS THERE ANYTHING YOU WANTED TO ACCOMPLISH THAT YOU DIDN'T GET TO DO?

HOLDEN: OUR ECONOMY IS TRANSITIONING BUT I WOULD HAVE LIKED TO HAVE SEEN THAT OCCUR FASTER. I WANTED TO SEE THE "A PLUS" PROGRAM EXPANDED. THAT'S IMPORTANT LONG TERM. WE'VE GOT TO HAVE A HEALTHCARE SYSTEM THAT PROVIDES BASIC SERVICES SO WE CAN KEEP OUR ECONOMY COMPETITIVE AND OUR FAMILIES TOGETHER.

SHELTON: DO YOU HAVE ANY REGRETS?

HOLDEN: IN THE POLICY ARENA NO. I STOOD AND FOUGHT FOR THE EDUCATION OF OUR CHILDREN BECAUSE IT WAS THE RIGHT THING TO DO. TO PROTECT CHILDRE'S HEALTH, WOMEN'S HEALTH, MENTAL HEALTH PARITY, ALL THOSE THINGS ARE VERY WORTHWHILE. EVEN THOUGH WE PAID A POLITICAL PRICE ON MANY OF THEM, IT WAS THE RIGHT THING TO DO.

SHELTON: ONE OF THE THINGS THAT CAUSED A LOT OF PROBLEMS POLITICALLY FOR YOUR ADMINISTRATION WAS THE EXECUTIVE ORDER YOU SIGNED GIVING STATE WORKERS COLLECTIVE BARGAINING POWER. I'M SURE YOU KNOW SOME POLITICIANS SAW IT AS A PAYOFF FOR UNIONS THAT CONTRIBUTED TO YOUR CAMPAIGN AND HELPED YOU PAY OFF YOUR INAUGURAL DEBTS. IF YOU HAD IT TO DO AGAIN, WOULD YOU STILL HAVE SIGNED THAT EXECUTIVE ORDER?

HOLDEN: YES. IF YOU GO BACK AND LOOK AT WHEN I FIRST RAN FOR STATE REP IN SOUTHWEST MISSOURI. THE CO-CHAIRS OF THAT COMMITTEE...ONE WAS A BUSINESS MAN AND ONE WAS A LABOR LEADER. I'VE ALWAYS SAID THAT I WAS FOR THE RIGHT OF PUBLIC EMPLOYEES TO BARGAIN COLLECTIVELY IF THEY SO CHOOSE. I SAID SO DURING THE CAMPAIGN. I JUST FULFILLED WHAT I THOUGHT WAS THE COMMITTMENT TO IMPROVE THE QUALITY OF LIFE OF ALL MISSOURIANS, NOT JUST LABOR UNION MEMBERS.

SHELTON: I'VE BEEN SPEAKING WITH GOVERNOR BOB HOLDEN.