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Columbia Missourian

Hulshof, Nixon clash over taxes in gubernatorial debate

By DAVID A. LIEB, The Associated Press
October 18, 2008 | 9:31 p.m. CDT

ST. LOUIS — Republican gubernatorial candidate Kenny Hulshof claimed Saturday that Democratic rival Jay Nixon's "grandiose plans and promises" would result in $2.6 billion in new spending, raising taxes by $1,200 for every Missouri household.

Nixon denied he would raise taxes and countered by repeatedly painting Hulshof as a Washington politician responsible for the nation's economic woes during a Saturday evening debate in St. Louis.

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Hulshof has served as the congressman from Missouri's 9th District since 1997. Nixon is Missouri's longest-serving attorney general, a post he's held since 1993.

The debate was the third in a series of four leading up to the Nov. 4 election.

Hulshof underscored his description of Nixon as a tax-increaser by airing a TV ad claiming Nixon was proposing "more spending than any candidate in state history." The ad ran both before the debate and during a commercial break in the middle of it.

Hulshof's $2.6 billion figure was based on a calculation of the costs of Nixon's health care and education proposals, from preschool through grade school to college, if they were all implemented in one year.

"How do we pay for all of these grandiose plans and promises that have been offered us by the attorney general - again, $1,200 per household in our state," Hulshof asked rhetorically during the debate. "I don't think raising taxes right now is the way to go."

Retorted Nixon: "Well neither do I."

"As most folks know about the Washington playbook, when you get late in the game and you're behind and you're desperate, you start firing charges all across the place," Nixon said.

Nixon referenced Washington, D.C., more than a dozen times in the debate when referring to Hulshof, seeking to pin a portion of the blame for and frustration about the economy on the congressman.

Public opinion polls have shown Nixon leading Hulshof.

After the debate, Nixon disputed Hulshof's $2.6 billion estimate of his proposals.

"It won't cost that much," Nixon said, adding: "We have a fiscally sound way to get it done."