Our Opinion: Every tax dollar also counts

“Every Dollar Counts” served as a campaign slogan for Republican Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder.

Were it not for a newspaper report, we wonder if that slogan would have applied to the more than $35,000 in tax funds Kinder spent for hotel costs in St. Louis.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch revealed Sunday the statewide elected official had amassed a bill of $35,050 for 329 nights at hotels in St. Louis and St. Louis County since 2006.

Some of those hotel stays, the newspaper reported, occurred while Kinder attended sporting events, society galas and a tea party rally.

Kinder responded Tuesday by announcing he will use campaign funds to repay the state, as well as to rent a condominium there for future visits.

Characterizing himself as a “fiscal conservative,” Kinder called his plan to use campaign funds a “voluntary, example-setting, going-above-and-beyond-what’s-required effort.”

Such examples are persuasive when they are standard procedure, not a response to publicized revelations.

Kinder also said: “I do not want the slightest taint or suspicion to attach to my name or public service.”

Too late — damage already has been done.

The simple truth is government — federal, state and local — is at a point where every dollar does count.

The economy is struggling to rebound; unemployment remains high while people search for jobs; efforts to balance the budget mean elimination or cuts to education, health and mental health programs, and other government services.

Too many Missourians are hurting while Kinder slept comfortably at the Chase Park Plaza — at the typical discounted government rate of $119 a night, including tax.

We’ve chastised other government officials — Republicans and Democrats — for what we perceive to be a failure of fiscal accountability.

Whenever it happens, we are profoundly disappointed.

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