Voters in mid-Missouri got the first look this political season at all five candidates for the Republican nomination for governor at a forum held by the Cole County Republican Central Committee Tuesday night at the Farm Bureau headquarters in Jefferson City.
The candidates – Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder, State Senator Bob Dixon, former Speaker of the House Catherine Hanaway, businessman and former candidate for U.S. Senate John Brunner and former Navy SEAL and businessman Eric Greitens – were asked a series of six questions by moderator, State Senator Mike Kehoe (R-Jefferson City).
During the 90-minute forum, the candidates were given 90 seconds to two minutes to answer the questions. They also were allowed opening and closing statementsOne question brought about a discussion of keeping businesses in the state, and keeping them once they have arrived. All the candidates called for the passage of Right to Work legislation, and most called for the reduction of burdensome regulations as well as business tax reductions.
“We have to look at cutting taxes on job creators, because we are now surrounded by tax cutting states,” said Kinder, pointing out that Illinois’ newly elected Republican governor has pledged he will cut taxes on businesses.
Sen. Dixon called for a four point platform that includes; Tort Reform, Tax Reform, Regulatory Reform and Employment Law Reform.
Hanaway called for matching educational programs with jobs that need to be filled.
“Too many kids are starting college, taking out big loans, and never graduating and still not being ready for the jobs that are available,” said Hanaway. “We need to match employers and employees and training programs.”
A question on how to fund transportation in Missouri proved a little trickier. Some candidates said Missourians need to be open to fuel taxes and tolls. Others said funding for transportation projects could be found in the current state budget.
“I believe in results and accountability, and I believe that every agency in government should be able to define its mission and that for every line item in the budget, we should be able to ask ‘What results did you produce for the people of Missouri?'” said Greitens.
Brunner said Missourians have spoken, no new taxes for transportation. He advocated long term planning and using budgetary growth to pay for road improvements.
“Growth in businesses coming into Missouri, growth in jobs, growth in revenue,” said Bunner. “We need to have a certain percentage specified that of the excess revenues coming into the state, that a certain percentage will go into a long-term (transportation) plan.”
Kinder called for all sides to work together to come up with a plan, saying that every possibility should be open.
“We need to ask what are the best approaches that have been done in Indiana, and in Oklahoma and in states across the country,” said Kinder.
Finally, when it comes to job creation in Missouri, all the candidates once again pointed to Right to Work and the elimination of burdensome regulations and an unfavorable legal environment.
“We need to think outside the box,” said Dixon. “Is it jobs we want, or is it entrepreneurship? And I think that needs to be answered in the classroom. What kinds of things are we doing to get students to think about that rather than just getting a job?”
Hanaway said that Missouri needed to “become known for something.”
“We can become the number one agri-business state in the country,” said Hanaway. “That’s not only going to bring farmers here, but it will bring scientists, and engineers and good paying jobs.”
The forum in Jefferson City came one year to the day before the 2016 general election. The winner of the August Republican primary will likely face Democratic Attorney General Chris Koster, who at the moment is running unopposed.
If you want to watch the forum in its entirety, click here for video web feed.