Monday, October 20, 2008

Hagan: Give Missourians the Healthcare Program Lawmakers Have; Denison: Springfield Needs Nuclear Power For Water Needs

The two candidates for Springfield's #135th House District seat squared off on a variety of issues at a League of Women Voters Forum Monday.
Summary: Denison had some good real moments (when he noted his heating bill), some bold statements ("I will not vote for vouchers), and an eye-popping proposal (build a nuclear plant in Springfield) but he lacked specifics on issues he said he's championed, like education and transportation funding. Used "time limitations" as an excuse too often, and failed to list a specific legislative accomplishment. Hagan showed passion on what she cared about, railed against tax credits and vouchers, but could have been clearer on why Republican voters in her historically red district should take a chance on her over Denison.

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

Denison -- Listed transportation and education as his top issues, said "we've done quite well in the last four years in Springfield," on those issues. Seemed distracted by the two-minute time limit, so he halted his statement there.
Hagan -- Cited education and healthcare as her priorities, said Missouri is in a "crisis regarding healthcare." Pinned current economic crisis partly on the lack of will to address healthcare.

Denison -- Said he attended a "very interesting meeting" today, one of 4 recent meetings on the issue, but acknowledged there's still no "concrete way" of financing Missouri's transportation future. Talked about working hard with the city, county and state. Again said it was something he couldn't address the issue in two minutes -- without using his two minutes (?).
Hagan -- Noted that Arkansas has better roads than Missouri, adding that's "a sad state." "I don't have the answer," she acknowledged. "You the taxpayer are going to help us with that." Neither Hagan or Denison had a real answer on this issue -- and to be fair, most politicians running for office everywhere don't.

Hagan -- Called for giving Missouri residents the same type of healthcare plan that state lawmakers and employees are allowed to have. Said she knows that healthcare costs are driving the problem. Suggested creating "employee pools" so more people could be covered.
Denison -- Accessibility is necessary, he said. Then gave props to the Jordan Vally Clinic. "Need to continue that time of thing." Made blanket but vague statement about doing "whatever we can to get insurance to people we can."

Hagan -- Should put a big focus on universal pre-K and college affordability. Said if a child wants to go to college, he or she would be able to go. Didn't explain how she'd pay for that. Said the state should give incentives for students to go into sectors that are experiencing workforce shortages. Cited middle school as a "crisis age" for students that needs more attention.
Denison -- Cited growing enrollment at OTC. 20-thousand plus at MSU. "What we have been doing is correct," he said, defending his votes on education funding. Wants more emphasis "to push for the A+" program. How? That was left unclear.

Hagan -- Made a simple but great point. "What is wrong with this state? There's no recycling." That's how friends react when they come to Missouri. "You guys are so far behind," she said, they said. (I can relate. I'm from Jersey and growing up we had like 8 garbage cans to separate plastics, paper, cans, etc.)
Denison -- I do recycle, he proclaimed. Said his utility bill was just $65 dollars last month, because he and his wife have been conserving more, making less trips to the grocery store. Seemed alarmed about a coming water problem in southwest Missouri. Proposed building a new reservoir and putting a nuclear plant on top. A bold, but perhaps, eye-raising position. Still, this was one of the best moments of the forum, because both candidates seemed to simplify an issue and relate it to the real world.

Hagan -- As an educator, said she always had someone to team up with. Recalled that in her door-to-door campaigning, she's found "really good people" from the other side. Said it's time to drop the Republican/Democratic labels. Promised to work with both parties.
Denison -- Called it "exciting" to work across the aisle. Said the General Assembly has done a great deal of bipartisan work. "We've had so many votes over 140 . . . voting together," he said.

Hagan -- Would never vote for vouchers, tax credits for private schools. Said private education should be provided by private funds, because there's no restrictions or mandates that private schools are required to live up to.
Denison -- Said he voted against HB 808, known as "the voucher bill," despite pressure from Republican leaders and Gov. Matt Blunt. "I will not vote for vouchers," Denison said flatly. Seemed to imply that vouchers should only be considered to help "special children," in certain areas that are "not getting help."

Hagan -- Stop tax credits. Said Missouri spends millions of dollars on companies that don't truly invest in the state.
Denison - Amtrak. Said the $3 Billion (think he meant million) given to Amtrak "is killing us." He called it a subsidy that's "not right."

Hagan -- Drug trafficking. Called it a major issue that's eating many kids and families alive. Blamed schools for "dropping the ball" on drug prevention programs.
Denison -- Drugs. Said lawmakers should work with school more to quickly identify trouble spots. Also said there needs to be more of a focus on mental health.

(Note: Candidates in the 136th and 138th also attended the forum. Complete reviews on their performances will be posted in the coming days as time allows.)

No comments: