Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The 138th: Lampe Slams Corporate Tax Breaks; Goodart: Bigger Government Isn't Always Better

The two candidates for Springfield's #138th House District seat squared off on a variety of issues at a League of Women Voters Forum Monday.
Summary: Lampe's four years of experience as a legislator were on bright display during the 90-minute forum. She came armed with specific statistics, which bolstered her case on a bunch of issues (8,000 more students, $400 million in tax credits, Greene County's 59th ranking.) Lampe's passion also came through on education and on what she sees as a waste of money on corporate tax breaks. Her time in Jefferson City and the ability to navigate around the facts gave her a clear advantage over Goodart, who held his own. Goodart did the best job of a challenger in trying to paint a contrast with his opponent. His theme is a compelling one with many Republicans: bigger government isn't always better. He basically kept on that same theme that money isn't always the answer, but lacked more specifics on "the why" that could have helped his case. He tried to defend the Republican legislature in several instances. He made some solid points, but it's tough to be defending the party in power this year.


Here's a synopsis of how they answered the questions posed, in the order they were asked:

Goodart -- Standing up, talks about fair taxation and good government. Said a quality education is important to get students ready for the workforce. Called for government efficiency and the implementation of the "Fair Tax." Directly asks for your vote.
Lampe -- From prepared remarks, rattles off a host of things she's learned during her 4 years as a state legislator. A lot is not pretty. She learned about the influence of big business, how hard it is to be in the minority. Notes she voted against the Medicaid cuts. Said she's tired of a laundry list of "false choices." She said Dems aren't perfect, but at least don't "create false choices."

Goodart -- Notes Missouri went from 3rd worst to 9th best under Republican leadership. Favors a consumption tax rather than an income or property tax to deal with financing issues. Said lawmakers need to look at "all funding" possible to fund road projects.
Lampe -- Said Mo. is at a "falling off place." Suggests two financing options on the table: Public private partnerships for toll roads. Secondly, grouping together as communities to decide on projects. Municipalities would decide to raise their own taxes based on their own needs. But noted, she's not sure if locals would end up agreeing on that, because many outlying communities use Springfield roads but wouldn't have to pay the higher taxes for them.

Goodart -- Said the priority should be helping people who can't help themselves. States that Mo. cut $70 million in 2005. Praises Hulshof's plan for Healthmax to provide Missourians with "access." Talks about how he doesn't have health insurance himself, and doesn't want the state to supply it to him. Hints Medicaid cuts were the correct thing to do, but never outright says it.
Lampe -- Medicaid cuts need to be restored. The clearest difference in philosophy between the two. Wants to cover all children ages 0 to 18. Said dental, mental health coverage should be included. Calls for focus on accessibility, affordability and portability.

Lampe -- Focus should be on pre-K for 3,4 and 5-yr olds. Then pivots to the funding issue. Said Mo. education is "drastically underfunded." Higher ed has been unfunded for years. Notes this example: University of Missouri has added 8,000 students since 2001, but has to operate with the same budget as 7 years ago. Cites Mo. Constitution that says education should be number one priority.
Goodart -- Defends G.O.P. for increasing education funds every year. Notes he is running his campaign on $10,000. Uses that to show he knows how to budget. Makes one of his strongest points: that we can't just be asking the state legislature for more money. Spending money doesn't mean results. Talks up parental responsibility and involvement on ways to help children achieve success in education.

Lampe -- Is prepared for and gets fired up about this question. Lays into ethanol subsidies. Expresses shock at the millions paid in ethanol subsidies for "economic development for farmers." Calls it a "ruse," because much of this money doesn't end up going to farmers. The real passion of Lampe is coming through here. States, "Ethanol is not the answer to our energy issues." Wants to focus on other renewables and cutting consumption. An example: retooling our auto plants so they can sell hybrids. One of her best answers. Direct and compelling.
Goodart -- Calls for the use of nuclear, solar and wind. Also: carpooling to work. Again, hits theme of less government. Said that we can't just pass this problem on for government to fix. Adds that we need to look at ourselves first to solve the energy problem.

Goodart -- Said people are sick of fighting between the two parties. Notes his door-walking in the 138th District and said that if he can get a person to talk to him, "they seem to like me." The warns: I might so some things you might not like, because my top interest will be the district.
Lampe -- Said she worked on the other side of the aisle with 7 different Republicans on different issues. Said lawmakers have more in common than differences, that diverse backgrounds can help educate each other. Notes that she worked with a state representative from St. Louis to help ask members to carry their paper to the side of the floor to be recycled.

Lampe -- Said when the government passes tax credits, that's money that comes out of the revenue stream. Notes that business tax credits doubled from $196 million to $400 million over the last 10 years in Missouri. Said private school is a choice, and if a private school receives government money, that private school usually doesn't want to adhere to the rules that are required of public schools. Pledges "the voucher debate will rage on," in Jefferson City. Said it's not always easy to defeat the pro-voucher bills, but makes clear it is something she will continue to fight.
Goodart -- Said he's "not a big proponent of vouchers," then quickly notes they had some success in Washington D.C., a more urban area. Said there needs to be more options for students in computer science and vo-tech schooling.

Lampe -- Corporate Tax Credits. Cited a stat that Missouri has lost more jobs since January than the surrounding 8 states combined (attempting to channel Jay Nixon's popular charge..)
Goodart -- Didn't list one item, because he said he couldn't. Talked about restructuring the tax system. Also defended corporate tax credits. Said that we pay corporate taxes when we buy something from the corporation, so that helps the company. Defended corporate tax credits because they help create jobs.

Goodart -- Recalls story that earlier this year a 17 year old broke into his home and robbed him. Stressed there needs to be more community/parental involvement. Said we needed to look at the reasons people commit crime.
Lampe -- Crimes against children are the biggest problem. Greene is 59th of 115 counties regarding taking care of children. Notes that local lawmakers have tried to get Greene County another judge.

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