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Primary Primer: Candidates for governor outline platforms on key issues

Wednesday, July 16, 2008 | 3:48 p.m. CDT; updated 4:48 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Correction: This story has been updated to correct the years Kenny Hulshof worked as a special prosecutor for Missouri Attorney General Bill Webster.

Kenny Hulshof

Columbia

WHAT’S THE JOB?

The governor is the top elected official in Missouri. He or she appoints members to all boards and commissions and all department heads in state government, fills vacancies in public offices unless otherwise provided by law and selects Supreme Court judges and appellate court judges. The governor addresses the General Assembly on state priorities each year and submits a budget to the legislature. All bills passed by the legislature are submitted to the governor, who can sign or veto them. Governors serve four-year terms. The salary is $129,922.

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PERSONAL: 50. He and his wife, Renee, have two daughters, ages 8 and 5.

PARTY: Republican

CAMPAIGN WEB SITE: kenny08.com

OCCUPATION: Ninth District U.S. representative, attorney

EDUCATION: Bachelor’s degree in agricultural economics, MU, 1980; juris doctorate, University of Mississippi School of Law, 1983.

BACKGROUND: Court-appointed public defender in Cape Girardeau 1983-86, prosector for Cape Girardeau County, 1986-89; special prosecutor for Attorney General Bill Webster’s office, 1989-1993.

Finances, as of July 15

Expenditures: $1,221,396.21

Contributions: $2,388,077.29

Money on hand: $1,149,641.08

Issues

ETHICS: Served in Congress on the Ethics Committee, which is the only committee that has an equal number of Democrats and Republicans. Wrote the report in 2003 concerning the investigation that led to the resignation of Tom Delay, who had offered a political favor in exchange for his vote. Although Hulshof was asked to step down after filing the report, he said he’d do it again. “Integrity of government is that important to me,” he said. Writing the report was “the right thing to do.” Hulshof supports a stronger Missouri Ethics Commission and is against lobbyists receiving gifts.

HIGHWAYS: Says the Missouri Department of Transportation has become an efficient agency but supports possible public-private partnerships by having outside private companies work on Missouri highways. Says it takes four years from the time a proposal is made to the time the highway is completed. Internal changes would make highway construction more efficient. Supports the design, bid and build routine, saying it saves Missouri taxpayer money.

IMMIGRATION: Working to strengthen border security and improve the enforcement of immigration laws. Also wants to “empower law enforcement with the authority to combat illegal immigration.” Opposes proposals that aim to grant amnesty to illegal immigrants. Would work to block the flow of tax dollars to immigrants and ban state contractors who hire them from bidding on projects funded by taxpayers. Supports the constitutional amendment to make English the “official language of Missouri.”

TAXES: Helped author the federal tax cuts of 2001 and 2003, providing $1.6 trillion in relief to taxpayers. Has also worked to eliminate the federal death tax. He pledges not to raise taxes. He also has proposed to freeze property taxes for Missourians 65 or older with an adjusted growth income of $52,000 or less.

ECONOMY: Says his experience as a small business owner has given him a commitment to policies that increase jobs and decrease taxes. Believes a “business-friendly climate” is necessary to attract high-quality jobs. Would review the state’s tax-credit system to ensure those tax dollars are being used as intended.

EDUCATION: Would work to ensure that public schools in Missouri receive the funding allocated by elected officials, not by judges. In regard to higher education, he supports the Lewis and Clark Discovery Initiative, through which some of the assets of the Missouri Higher Education Loan Authority were sold to finance capital projects on Missouri campuses.

STATE BUDGET: His approach would be to establish priorities. “That’s what he’s been doing this whole campaign,” spokesman Scott Baker said. Hulshof has taken a “no new taxes” pledge, because there’s already enough taxpayer money coming into Jefferson City to pay for essential services. “It a matter of establishing priorities and funding them appropriately,” Baker said.


Sarah Steelman

Rolla

PERSONAL: 50. Married to David Steelman. They have three sons.

PARTY: Republican

CAMPAIGN WEB SITE: sarahsteelman.com

OCCUPATION: Missouri state treasurer

EDUCATION: Bachelor’s degree in history, MU (1980); masters degree in economics, MU (1983)

BACKGROUND: Former investment broker for AG Edwards; economist for the Missouri Department of Revenue; deputy director of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources; adjunct professor of economics at Lincoln University; executive director of Big Brothers and Big Sisters in Rolla; 16th District state senator from 1998 to 2004; state treasurer since 2004.

Finances, as of July 15

Expenditures: $1,025,096.18

Contributions: $1,877,492.45

Money on hand: $711,055.02

Issues

ETHICS: Author of revised Missouri Open Meetings and Records Law in 2004. Favors audio broadcasts of committee hearings to make government as transparent as possible. As state treasurer, implemented the nation’s first Terror-Free Investment policy, which works to prevent Missouri tax dollars from benefiting countries that help terrorist organizations. As governor, would prevent elected officials from benefiting from state tax credits, government contracts and loans. Would prohibit gifts from lobbyists to elected officials.

HIGHWAYS: Says she understands that because of declining federal funds, issues concerning highways must be addressed. Supports the consideration of public-private partnerships, which are being used in Indiana. She would not consider an increase in the tax on motor fuels. “The last thing we want to do is raise taxes on gasoline,” she says.

IMMIGRATION: Would enact “meaningful penalties” against companies that use illegal immigrant labor, deny state benefits to illegal immigrants, refer suspicious tax returns filed by illegal immigrants to federal authorities and prohibit sanctuary cities in Missouri.

TAXES: Hopes to increase the personal exemption deduction for Missouri taxpayers from $2,100 to $2,625 per person and from $4,200 to $5,250 per married couple. Wants to enact property tax reform and require that assessment notices be mailed in April instead of November. Also wants to enact a constitutional amendment that would prohibit judges from raising taxes.

ECONOMY: Would work to reduce government regulation, lower taxes, improve access to capital and leverage state investment to grow Missouri’s economy and create quality jobs.

EDUCATION: Hopes to develop new partnerships between Missouri businesses and state universities, colleges, trade schools and high schools to prepare Missouri students for jobs. Wants to replace the Missouri Assessment Program test with the ACT, which would redirect resources toward a test that “truly matters.”

STATE BUDGET: Notes that the state constitution requires a balanced budget. Says on her Web site that her “record of Missouri experience on fiscal issues means that we will not have out of control Washington, D.C. earmarks, deficits and pork-barrel spending in Missouri” and would use the “line item veto to prevent Washington style pork-barrel spending.”


Scott Long

Mountain View

PERSONAL: 46. He and his wife, Sheila, have five children, ages 24, 21, 11, 11 and 5 months.

AGE: 46

PARTY: Republican

CAMPAIGN WEB SITE: None

OCCUPATION: Agricultural education teacher at Cabool High School

EDUCATION: Bachelors degree in agricultural education from Missouri State University, 1985.

BACKGROUND: Member of the Missouri State Agricultural Teachers Association; part-time farmer for a beef operation; grew up on a dairy farm.

Finances, as of July 15

Because neither Long’s contributions or expenditures exceed $500, he was able to file a statement of exemption.

Issues

ETHICS: Long says the fact that he is not a politician is one reason he’s running for governor. “I think (politicians) are good people and they mean well,” but lobbyists have too much control. Says he will not take money from anyone during his campaign so that he won’t feel like he owes anyone later on. Says the state has more important problems to deal with and can’t focus too much on ethics.

HIGHWAYS: Says infrastructure is extremely important for Missouri’s economic development. If the state doesn’t have good roads, it can’t promote economic development in rural Missouri. Believes the state needs to fix roads and bridges but not necessarily improve trains and airports. Says the state should do its best to improve roads with the money it has without raising taxes.

IMMIGRATION: Says immigration is not a bad thing but “illegal immigration is terrible.” Anyone who wants to legally enter the United States legally should be allowed. Says the state should impose large fines ­— in the hundreds of thousands of dollars — on businesses that hire illegal immigrants. “We need to crack down on (immigration) in a huge manner with everything we can.”

TAXES: Calls himself “a true Republican. I don’t believe we need more taxes.” Says the state doesn’t need to add new programs and opposes charging veterans income taxes “because they have already paid for the nation’s freedom.” Says he will not sign any legislation that would increase taxes.

ECONOMY: Says the economy is “all based upon that oil price” and admits he doesn’t know what will happen because of that. Believes that as long as Missouri keeps taxes low and roads and bridges in good condition, industry will come into the state. Opposes government assistance of agriculture. Says Missouri needs a quality work force, which requires some sort of higher education, but not necessarily college. Trade school would be sufficient for some. “If people are willing to train themselves I think there will be jobs for them,” he said.

EDUCATION: “Being a teacher, I’m a true believer in education,” Long says. Says education is one of his top priorities. “We got to stop spending money in a way that has done nothing more than raise tuition costs.” Says borrowing money can be an economically sound method of paying for higher education.

STATE BUDGET: “We need to put people in Jefferson City who are honest, trustworthy individuals,” he says, adding that lawmakers should be people who will not waste tax dollars on “frivolous garbage.”


Jennie Lee “Jen” Schwartze Sievers

Jackson

PERSONAL: 74. Single.

PARTY: Republican

CAMPAIGN WEB SITE: None

OCCUPATION: Small investor, owns rental property

EDUCATION: Paralegal and civil litigation degrees from the School of Paralegal in Atlanta, Ga., in 1994 and 1997, respectively.

BACKGROUND: Attended a European criminal justice seminar in Amsterdam for a few weeks.

Finances, as of July 15

Because neither Schwartze Sievers’ contributions or expenditures exceed $500, she was able to file a statement of exemption.

Issues

ETHICS: Says there are “too many (government) officials taking care of themselves, some using federal funds,” rather than taking care of citizens. Thinks the government should listen to the people and work hard to find answers and solutions.

HIGHWAYS: Thinks Missouri needs wider highways, because two-lane highways are dangerous. Highways should be straight rather than curved. Says highway money should be used more efficiently.

IMMIGRATION: Wants to help everybody all that she can and knows that illegal immigrants are people “just like you and me.” Believes illegal immigrants need to respect the laws.

TAXES: Doesn’t know for sure what her stance is yet, but “like everyone else,” doesn’t want her taxes increased.” Because she doesn’t know what’s going on “behind closed doors,” says there might be reasons to increase them. However, raising taxes is not her “cup of tea.”

ECONOMY: Says she needs to do more research to learn what the government could do to improve the economy. Wants to talk to the people about their ideas to figure out solutions that all the people can live with.

EDUCATION: Says funding should go to students who are going to college for an education, not just for fun.

STATE BUDGET: Thinks the government needs to stop spending money in the wrong ways and have citizens in mind first and foremost.


Jay Nixon

DeSoto

PERSONAL: 52. He and his wife, Georganne Wheeler Nixon, have two sons.

PARTY: Democrat

CAMPAIGN WEB SITE: jaynixon.com

OCCUPATION: Missouri attorney general

EDUCATION: Bachelor’s degree in political science, MU, 1978; juris doctorate, MU, 1981.

BACKGROUND: Missouri attorney general since January 1993; state senator for six years, member of First United Methodist Church in Jefferson City.

Finances, as of July 15

Expenditures: $3,311,007.24

Contributions: $8,189,443.56

Money on hand: $3,754,169.52

Issues

ETHICS: A strong supporter of Missouri’s campaign contribution limits. Has defended those limits all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court and won a landmark case. Says it is unfortunate that Gov. Matt Blunt has signed a bill that will abolish Missouri’s contribution limits and allow million-dollar checks from wealthy special interests. As governor, would fight to reinstate a system with both strict contribution limits and transparency to ensure that wealthy special interests and corporations don’t have a louder voice than regular Missourians.

HIGHWAYS: Says there is little doubt that funding for roads will be a significant problem in the years to come but concedes there’s little consensus on how to resolve it. During tough economic times, he says, he won’t raise taxes and won’t implement tolls. Instead, he said he would bring all the stakeholders, including the public, to the table to discuss the best way to meet transportation needs.

IMMIGRATION: Says employers who knowingly hire or misclassify illegal immigrants take jobs from hardworking Missourians, skirt tax laws and avoid giving their employees proper benefits. Calls this a serious problem that must be addressed. Supports an illegal immigration enforcement policy in America and in Missouri that is tough, fair and practical. Says employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants should not receive tax credits or incentives from the state. Says that although he strongly believes that the diversity of the state makes us stronger, we must hold accountable those who help people break the law.

HEALTH CARE: Says that when Blunt cut health care from hundreds of thousands of Missourians; he created a health-care crisis in the state. Now, more than 750,000 Missourians lack health insurance, and premiums are skyrocketing for Missourians fortunate enough to still have coverage. Says Blunt has also turned away more than $1 billion in federal health-care funds, tax dollars that Missourians already send to Washington but never come back to Missouri. Says he would fix this growing problem and would start by restoring the cuts. By doing so, he says, he’ll reign in premiums and ensure that more Missouri families and workers have access to the care they need and deserve.

EDUCATION: Says he would reinvest in public K-12 education to address problems with poor buildings, lack of technology, underpaid teachers and high dropout rates. Says he would work closely with business, community leaders, parents and teachers. Believes every Missouri student deserves the chance to get a college education but that middle-class families are getting squeezed. Notes that Missouri ranks last in the nation in higher education funding increases and that students are graduating with more debt that ever. Proposes Missouri Promise, which would expand the A+ Schools Program to all Missouri high school students and allow them to sign contracts stating that when they finish a two-year community-college degree with good grades, stay out of trouble and complete 50 hours of community service they could finish a four-year degree at a state college or university tuition-free.

TAXES: Says he would hold the line on taxes and provide tax relief to Missourians who need it most. Proposes providing additional property tax relief to 65,000 seniors to help them stay in their homes. Says Missouri families are tightening their belts and believes state government must do the same. Has put forward a plan to conduct a strict performance review of every government agency and program. Inefficient programs will be changed or eliminated.

ECONOMY: Says that after four years with Blunt as governor, Missouri is facing its highest unemployment rate in 10 years, and families are paying skyrocketing prices for gas, food and medicine. Says his Republican opponents have embraced Blunt’s failed agenda and promised more of the same. Says he would work to change directions by fighting to keep good-paying jobs in Missouri and bringing new economic investment. Would encourage growth in life-sciences research, technology and innovation to create the jobs of tomorrow. Says moving the state’s economy forward will require smart, fresh ideas.

STATE BUDGET: Says the office of the attorney general was in disarray before he took office. “My predecessor ended up in federal prison, and my first task was to restore integrity and efficiency,” he wrote. “Over the past 16 years, I’ve done that, and I now lead the most efficient office in state government.” Says his office saved or returned more than $20 to taxpayers for every $1 appropriated to his office by the legislature. “We work hard. And we get results. As governor, I’ll work to make our state government as efficient, effective and fiscally responsible as possible.” Proposes a top-to-bottom performance review of every state agency and program. Notes, for example, that more than 60 boards or commissions are involved in the state’s health care system. “That’s way too big. We need to streamline that bureaucracy to provide better service and save money for Missouri taxpayers.”


Daniel Carroll

Shelbina

PERSONAL: 51. Single.

PARTY: Democrat

CAMPAIGN WEB SITE: None

OCCUPATION: Works in the tool and dye department of Cerro Flow, a company that makes copper tubing.

EDUCATION: General equivalency diploma, 1977

BACKGROUND: Navy Seaman aboard the USS Howard W. Gilmore, 1974-1977

Finances, as of July 15

Carroll has not filed any campaign finance reports yet.

Issues

ETHICS: Says he knows that ethics reform is necessary but isn’t sure what he’d do about it until after seeing the possible options.

HIGHWAYS: Thinks highways that aren’t up to standard should be repaired, but funding “needs to be checked into.” Funding should not increase or decrease until it is reviewed, because it seems to be coming from somewhere it shouldn’t be coming from.

IMMIGRATION: “Busloads of illegal aliens come in and work for several months,” he says. Thinks illegal immigration should be slowed down or stopped.

EDUCATION: Thinks participation and learning needs to take place in the home with the assistance of parents as much as it does in the classroom with teachers. “A lot of children are getting to the age where they don’t care about school, and they should,” he says. “We have many young kids today getting in trouble instead of learning.” Believes that funding should be increased and that revenue from gambling should be placed into education funding.

TAXES: Says taxes should be reduced. “I am very much in approval with tax reform all the way around.” Doesn’t think recent tax rebates were enough, but they were a good start.

ECONOMY: Says Missouri needs to make businesses realize that the state is a better location for them, and so he would work to make Missouri more enticing for businesses to stay or move here from other states. Says more jobs are necessary. Thinks Missouri is one of the most self-sufficient of the United States, but it needs to ensure that businesses have easy access to what they need. Supports the possibility of government funding to help get companies started in Missouri.

STATE BUDGET: Thinks the government should cut funding in areas that don’t need it, such as wetlands.


Andrew “Andy” Finkenstadt

St. Charles

PERSONAL: 42. Married to Carol Finkenstadt

PARTY: Libertarian

CAMPAIGN WEB SITE: andy4governor.com

OCCUPATION: Senior software engineer

EDUCATION: Attended Franciscan University of Steubenville from 1983 to 1987

BACKGROUND: Music minister at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Cottleville, Mo. Owner and operator of Webkahuna Internet Services. Landlord of rental property.

Finances, as of July 14

Since neither the aggregate amount of contributions received nor the aggregate amount of expenditures by Finkenstadt exceed $500, he was able to file a statement of limited activity.

Issues

ETHICS: Would expect all department heads to operate in full compliance with both the “letter and spirit” of the law. Says ethical behavior is “a requirement, not just a good thing to strive for.” Hopes to have a fully open office and create a daily blog of his activities as governor.

HIGHWAYS: Says infrastructure is an important part of maintaining and improving the standard of living in Missouri and reduces the cost of commerce.

IMMIGRATION: Holds no stance on this issue, but as a Libertarian does not want to impede businesses. Says the problem of illegal immigrants could be that it doesn’t create a level playing field for those who are legally in the United States if businesses choose to pay them under the table or to pay them less than a prevailing wage. Says it’s not the problem of the immigrant but of the business.

TAXES: Would prefer to reduce levels of taxes to support only the essential services of government.

ECONOMY: Plans to create a marketing plan that would “tout (Missouri’s) advantages.” These include a “great educational system, educated populace, great workers willing to work for a day’s wages, low overall taxes, good business environment (and) lots of land and affordable housing.”

EDUCATION: Doesn’t believe in mandatory education or mandatory funding. His personal values, however, include the belief that education should be properly funded. Believes in evidence-based sponsorship of education, meaning that if a person fails to show the desire for education, such as achieving good grades, there might be no need to pay for that student’s education.

STATE BUDGET: As a Libertarian, prefers that the government “stays out of citizens’ lives as much as possible.” Hopes that this mindset would result in a smaller government, which would decrease the budget.


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