State lawmakers may have unwittingly helped the re-election campaign for Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon.
The budget is more than $1 billion higher than the plan proposed by the governor, a Democrat.
In addition to promising to hold the line on taxes, Nixon outlined a proposal that would have cut year-over-year spending by around 1 percent.
Making it even tougher for any Repubican candidate hoping to oust the Democrat, Nixon is only one of three governors -- two Democrats and one Republican -- in the last 30 years to manage a drop in spending while in office.
Any GOP candidate for governor, therefore, will have a hard time arguing that they will have a better chance than Nixon at convincing lawmakers to cut spending, not raise taxes, and balance the budget.
GOP Cries Foul
Republicans are already starting to accuse me of mischaracterizing the budget proposal.
My email inbox is full of complaints from lawmakers, candidates, and campaign managers.
First, a budget is an estimate of future spending. An estimate is an estimate is an estimate.
Second, putting the estimates aside, the proposal by lawmakers still increases spending 3.4 percent compared to the amount appropriated for this year. Plus, if all of the appropriations are spent this fiscal year, spending will increase almost 5 percent compared to total expenditures last year.
Meanwhile, GOP lawmakers are sending out press releases touting the restoration of funding to various programs, while politicians on both sides of the aisle are talking about budget cuts.
The simple fact, however, is that total state spending is going up.
Between now and November, it will be up to the politicians on how they want to spin it. More importantly, though, it will be up to the voters on whether or not they want to believe it.