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Candidate Q&A

Thursday, October 28, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 12:34 a.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

[Note: this story has been modified since its original posting to include responses received after the deadline.]

The Missourian recently submitted the following seven questions to every

Boone County candidate running for a seat in the Missouri General Assembly.

Their verbatim answers, edited only slightly for grammar and spelling,

appear here. While some candidates did not submit answers by deadline,

their responses will be added if they arrive before Election Day.

1. Missouri’s highways and bridges are among the worst in the nation

and remain in obvious need of repair and improvement. We hear a lot of

about boosting accountability and credibility in the Missouri Department

of Transportation as a first step, but accountability and credibility are

not money. As a state representative or senator what will you do, if anything,

to boost funding for state highway projects? Please discuss the potential

for toll roads, tax increases, bond issues and increased federal aid.

Ninth District state representative

candidates

Wes Shoemyer: Being the current representative, I am well aware of

the influence we have on the public’s perception. We should tout the good

things MoDOT is doing. For instance, MoDOT uses less than 3 percent of its

funding for administration costs, and any Fortune 500 company will say that’s

tremendous. MoDOT has also received 1st in the nation for completing

construction projects on time and on budget. I am very hopeful that we will

see an increase in federal funding. MoDOT has made significant changes, changes

needed to secure the public trust. This is the first step to getting public

approval for ballot issue to generate more funds.

Jeff Hedberg:

First of all we need to keep the promises that were made to the taxpayers in the original 15-year highway plan! After increases in the state fuel tax in 1987 and in 1992 that were to pay for identified construction projects, the original plan was labeled flawed and eventually scuttled. The original plan called for the allotment of funds of 59 percent to rural roadways and 41 percent to the urban areas. The rural areas of the state obviously have the most miles of roads and the revised plan that was adopted – 50 percent rural, 50 percent urban – has shifted funds that should have been available for out-state projects. By some accounts as much as a half a billion dollars in the past five to six years. Claims that the original 15-year plan was under-funded seem to have been incorrect. With tax collections higher than the original projections, approximately 20 percent to 30 percent higher, combined with the passage of Proposition 3, we should concentrate on fulfilling the promise of yesterday, today!

21st District state

representative candidates

Steve Hobbs: No response

Lloyd Becker: I believe that we must have a fair but effective source

of funding, such as a user fee assessed at the time of license renewal. An

example would be the assessment on a 2000-pound vehicle compared to an 80,000-pound

tractor trailer, a surcharge would be put on the big rig for $100 per vehicle,

or the charge would be based on the number of vehicles a person or company

runs on the roads. I would support the following in this order: 1. An increase

in the tax dollars being spent on the interstate system. For every dollar

we send to D.C., we get back about 90 cents for our roads, which makes us

a donor state; 2. Limiting bond issues to the cost of the project; 3. A tax

increase that would be fair to each person based on income; 4. No toll roads.

This type of user payment could keep lower income people from ever using

such roads. We must not let that happen.

23rd District state

representative candidates

Jeff Harris: It’s time we start paving our roads with something more

than good intentions. We can reduce the waste and inefficiencies at

the Missouri Department of Transportation highlighted in State Auditor Claire

McCaskill’s audit, and re-direct the savings to our roads and bridges. When

we as taxpayers and legislators see waste in government, we need to stop

it. We can also end the diversion of funds that were intended to go toward

our roads. We can work with our colleagues at the federal level to seek increased

federal funds for our interstate highway system. We should also consider

bringing the head of MoDOT under the control of the governor. Finally, I’m

pleased that, with my efforts, we’ve been able to restructure the proposed

Highway 763 expansion to better accommodate the interests of neighboring

businesses and citizens. I will continue to be a voice for my constituents

when it comes to dealing with state government and MoDOT.

Dan Fischbach: The first step is to pass Amendment 3, which will

restore voter confidence in the idea that transportation-related taxes are

being spent on roads, which was the voter’s intent when these taxes were

spent. The truth is, there will be no real road improvement in Missouri

without an increase in revenue. While toll roads seem attractive to

some, I have lived with toll roads, and they are expensive and inefficient

to administer. I would support a road tax increase, but not until we

have restored the trust of the voters and put it to a vote. In the

meantime, hopefully Senator Bond will continue to get a good return for Missouri

on federal dollars.

24th District state

representative candidates

Travis Ballenger: We do have the third-worst roads in the country.

I feel voters are tired of the unsafe and poor road conditions and something

has to be done. The initial cost of implementing toll roads would be too

much. Besides, putting tolls on Interstate 70 would place an unfair burden

on Missourians who rely on the interstate for personal transportation. I

do not believe toll roads constitute a viable solution to Missouri's infrastructure

problem. I support Amendment 3 and I feel the amendment will pass overwhelmingly

because voters are ready for improvements to our roads. To boost funding

for our roads, we should consider raising the diesel fuel tax a few pennies

and earmark the revenue for road maintenance and expansion. After all, over-the-road

tractor trailers have as much impact on our highways as 40,000 cars. I would

consider lowering the speed limit for over-the-road tractor trailers to 60

miles per hour to increase safety and reduce their impact on our roads. Also,

I will work to lobby for increased federal aid to help with our highways.

Ed Robb: No response

25th District state

representative candidates

Judy Baker: First and foremost, we should make certain that the state

receives all of the federal funding to which it is entitled, and that requires

that the state be in full compliance with federal program requirements. Noncompliance

would mean that some of Missouri’s share of federal highway funds, which

Missouri taxpayers have paid into the federal treasury, could be diverted

to other states, and we must not allow that to happen. I strongly believe

that it would be a breach of faith with Missouri taxpayers to take highways

that were proposed and constructed as free highways and convert them to toll

roads, and I would oppose that. Bond issues amount to borrowing money and

asking future taxpayers to pay it back with interest. They should only be

considered in limited, short-term cases, as you might use a credit card,

but pay it off at the end of the month. If Missouri voters decide that they

are willing to support additional taxes for highways, the Missouri Constitution

gives them the ultimate power to do that.

Bob Northup: I am voting for Amendment 3 and would support any measures

to restore the promise of Gov. Carnahan to restore the 6-cent gas tax designated

to improve roads and bridges in Missouri. This would restore the accountability

of Missouri’s government to taxpayers. This funding should never have been

promised for one thing and then used for another. It’s a falsehood on the

grandest scale.

19th District state

senator candidates

Chuck Graham: No response

Mike Ditmore: The first thing we can do as a state is to vote for

Amendment 3. This amendment will end the diversion of highway monies to other

state departments. This is an accountability measure that will restore credibility

with the people. We need to ensure that when highway money comes in, it goes

to build and repair our roads and bridges. As far as toll road, I do not

support adding tolls to existing roads. I believe the economic impact could

be detrimental to local communities and small businesses and adversely affect

our economy. I think that as far as a tax increase, the people spoke quite

loudly in 2002 and I would not be in favor of increasing taxes at this time.

However, we can work with our federal legislators like Senator Bond to increase

the amount of money that is returned to the state of Missouri. It is my hope

that Senator Bond will be successful in his efforts to increase our share

of federal highway monies, which will bring millions more in new money that

can be used to finish projects here in Missouri.

2. Missouri prisons have become a drain on the state’s financial resources

as we send more people into the Department of Corrections and the cost

of incarceration rises. Please discuss the causes and effects of this problem

and what, if anything, the General Assembly can do about it.

Ninth District state representative

candidates

Wes Shoemyer: You’ve heard the saying “pay now or pay later.” We

must restore funding to education and implement programs that intervene with

high risk students. Keeping kids in school equates to keeping them out of

prison.

Jeff Hedberg: There are currently over 30,000 adult felons in Missouri

correctional facilities, and there are approximately 60,000 probationers and

parolees. That combines for a total of over 90,000 offenders that are under

the supervision of the Department of Corrections. I believe that correctional

employees provide one of the most valuable services that all Missourians demand,

the oversight of persons judged guilty of an offense that requires incarceration.

The most cost-effective way to combat the problem is with quality education.

With education, we provide the tools necessary to become successful citizens.

21st District state

representative candidates

Steve Hobbs: No response

Lloyd Becker: We must use the work-release program more affectively

for those persons convicted of non-violent and non-drug-related crimes.

We should not make prison a home-sweet-home prison, but one that you never

want to return to.

23rd District state

representative candidates

Jeff Harris: We need to do a better job of educating young people

about the dangers of substance abuse. We also need to provide people

with economic opportunity and with the first-rate education they need to

succeed in the 21st century economy. I will continue to be a strong

supporter of pre-kindergarten through higher education as a ticket to economic

opportunity, and I will continue to work to provide good jobs to Missourians

as a path to success. Education and opportunity can prevent incarceration.

We also need to fight our methamphetamine problem in Missouri. I intend to

introduce legislation to require that pseudophedrine be sold behind the counter

of a licensed retailer with a database that registers the names of persons

who buy pseudophedrine.

Dan Fischbach: It is well known that we have a serious problem with

drug use and drug manufacturing in Columbia. While I consider myself “tough

on crime,” incarceration is expensive and ineffective in turning certain

non-violent and non-threatening offenders into productive citizens. Alternative

sentencing should be considered for certain classes of offenders, who pose

no threat to the public in their person or property. We must continue to

focus enforcement on dealers and manufacturers and those who threaten our

physical safety and our property.

24th District state

representative candidates

Travis Ballenger: Prisons have become overcrowded in the state of

Missouri. As state revenue decreased over the last few years, the Department

Of Corrections’ expenses continued to escalate. I support increasing the

number of drug courts and mental health courts. I would support allowing

drug courts and mental health courts to use alternative sentencing like in-home

detention for non-violent offenders only. However, I do not support relaxed

sentencing laws. I feel that would send the wrong message to would-be criminals.

Ed Robb: No response

25th District state

representative candidates

Judy Baker: Most states are experiencing prison overcrowding and

the resultant demand on state budgets, so Missouri is not alone in facing

this issue. Some sources state that more than half of the country’s prison

population may consist of non-violent offenders. Many of those are there

for drug or alcohol-related crimes, and others who were convicted of property

crimes committed those crimes because of a drug or alcohol condition. In

some states, prison overcrowding may be exacerbated by mandatory-minimum

sentencing laws. We must do absolutely all we can to protect ourselves and

our loved ones from violent criminals, but perhaps the legislature should

study the feasibility of alternative sentencing for certain non-violent offenders. In-house

arrest, electronic shackles, and mandatory drug and alcohol treatment are

used in some states for some people who have not been convicted of a violent

crime. Last year, the Kansas legislature learned that this is a complex,

emotional issue, but Missourians must ask themselves whether warehousing

those convicted of non-violent crimes is the best use of their scarce tax

dollars.

Bob Northup: Much of the Missouri prison problem could be reduced

by having alternatives for non-violent crime. In drug-related crimes, I feel

the pushers should be most severely punished, but those using small amounts

of marijuana shouldn’t be incarcerated but do lesser forms of punishment,

starting with community service. I will probably vote for Proposition 2 on

the Columbia ballot after further study.

19th District state

senator candidates

Chuck Graham: No response

Mike Ditmore: The state of Missouri has laws on the books to protect

and defend our citizens and our courts. Officials are taking

their job seriously about incarcerating those who are breaking our laws.

The state has a responsibility to house the criminals that our courts deem

worthy of being sent to prison. We need to lower the costs to incarcerate

our criminals and make the money that the Department of Corrections receives

more cost-effective. One of the major problems is that the department is

spending more and more money each year training officers instead of spending

that money on operating our prisons. We need to pay our state employees more,

especially those in harms way, to reduce the amount of turnover and the cost

to train new officers every year. We may even look at having the prisoner

pay more of their incarceration costs.

3. Funding for higher education continues to comprise a smaller and smaller

percentage of the state’s annual budget. Meanwhile, the cost of tuition

at public universities is spiraling upward as administrators rely on students

to fill the funding gap. Every Boone County candidate in this election

labels himself or herself a champion of the University of Missouri. Please

go beyond declaring your support for MU and outline what you will do in

the legislature to keep tuition costs down?

Ninth District state representative

candidates

Wes Shoemyer: I’ve been quoted in the press as saying “‘no new taxes’ is

the big lie” because you simply don’t get something for nothing. I’m one

of those parents that are now paying 30 percent more for tuition. As the

economy turns, we might fight for a greater share of those dollars to go

to education.

Jeff Hedberg: This is a subject that most all agree on, the funding

for education at all levels is not what it should be. I have firsthand knowledge

of the skyrocketing cost of tuition, because our daughter Rachael is a junior

at MU. If we allow business to thrive in this state we will increase the amount

of revenue available to all levels of education. When the opportunity to grow

or start a business is encouraged in a business friendly environment, everyone

will benefit.

21st District state

representative candidates

Steve Hobbs: No response

Lloyd Becker: First of all, I believe that we must create junior

college classes within each high school district or county, thus reducing

the need to spend four years in school and bringing down the overall cost

for a great many students. Along with this, there are those—who we

always forget—for whom college is not their bag. We must ensure that

low-interest loans are available for them to use for vo-tech training as

well. We must not allow choice or lack of ability to pay to deny any young

man or woman the right to better himself or herself.

23rd District state

representative candidates

Jeff Harris: I will continue to be the voice for higher education

and the University of Missouri in the General Assembly. I helped secure an

additional $12 million for the University of Missouri in budget negotiations,

and I’m honored to be endorsed by the MU Political Action Committee and to

be named the Legislator of the Year for Higher Education in 2004. I’ve fought

against cuts and will continue to fight against cuts to higher education

that my colleagues on the other side of the aisle have made. Regrettably,

too many legislators in Jefferson City on the other side of the aisle believe

that it’s okay for students to work two and three jobs to pay for rising

tuition costs or to make hardworking parents take out additional loans to

pay for their kids’ education. They don’t value higher education like both

Democrats and Republicans do here in Columbia, and they’ve said as much,

both privately and publicly. It’s important, therefore, that we send

people to Jefferson City who share our values. As a co-founder of the bi-partisan

University of Missouri Caucus, I will work with my colleagues on both sides

of the aisle to emphasize the value of higher education and the need to keep

it affordable and accessible. I will work to evaluate and support our scholarship

programs to make sure that those who need help going to college receive that

help.

Dan Fischbach: There is a difference between lip service and action.

Through 10 years of Democratic representation in the legislature and a Democratic

governor, higher education has not been a priority. For the numbers, see “Higher

Education” on my web site, www.danfischbach.com.

The record is appalling. The first priority is to fund a new health and science

center at MU to end the issue of moving the medical school. We need to look

at where the money is going. As the spouse of a MU professor, I know it is not

going to take raises to retain quality professors. If we are going to

hold the line on tuition increases, we will have to make it up by reducing

administrative overhead and increasing state funding. Facts are facts.

24th District state

representative candidates

Travis Ballenger: For the first time in the history of the University

of Missouri, tuition is paying for more than state appropriations. I feel

that it is a move in the wrong direction to increase the burden on students.

Over the last few years, the University of Missouri has been forced to raise

money through fundraising efforts just to stay viable. It is vital to send

state representatives from Columbia to Jefferson City who support all types

of stem-cell research because of the new Life Science Center at MU. I want

the University of Missouri to be a leader in stem-cell research, which will

attract increased research grants to help with funding needs. Unlike my opponent,

I will protect the historic name of MU. Allowing Southwest Missouri State

to steal our historic name would place it directly in competition with MU

for funding. Trading the name for a one-time appropriation will have negative

long-term funding ramifications. Also, I will work to build coalitions in

Jefferson City in an effort to secure much-needed increases in funding for

MU.

Ed Robb: No response

25th District state

representative candidates

Judy Baker: A recent study by the Brookings Institution (see Brookings

Policy Brief 124-2003) concluded that during a recent 10-year period, 80

percent of the decline in state higher education spending was due to states

incurring additional Medicaid expenses. When faced with these medical

bills, states resorted to cutting “discretionary” expenses, and higher education

was often the category hardest hit. Higher education is a significant

engine of economic growth in Missouri. We want it to be affordable

to all, or else we risk turning our public universities into de facto private

universities, accessible only to the few. I would support restoring funding

to the proportionate levels of three to five years ago. I also would

push for accountability in the expense-per-student measure and scrutinize

administrative cost in proportion with instruction and research costs. I

also believe our universities have untapped opportunities to secure grants

for research support that the state could use to demonstrate its commitment

to leading-edge research initiatives.

Bob Northup: I will seek out unnecessary spending, beginning with

a search of jobs in state government that can be eliminated or consolidated.

I will phase those out or combine them, insuring state workers displaced

have jobs in the private sector, plus I will preserve the retirement benefits

they have accrued. Retired state workers are often willing to help in such

an effort, I have found. Many other cost-saving measures can produce millions

of dollars in revenue to fund a new health sciences center for MU so Kansas

City cannot steal our medical school. Many other projects at MU would be

an appropriations priority with me, such as upgrading buildings at the School

of Engineering.

19th District state

senator candidates

Chuck Graham: No response

Mike Ditmore: The most important thing we can do to keep costs down

is to work to consistently fund our universities. Without stability in funding,

it makes it harder for administrators to hire new professors, improve programs,

and build the infrastructure that will attract the researchers who will bring

more dollars and prestige to our university. I will work to make education

and education funding the state’s first priority again. By making education

funding our top priority again, I think that we can move the resources in

place to stabilize any further tuition increases and lift the burden off

the students and parents who worry about skyrocketing tuition bills.

4. The effects of legislative term limits are in full swing. Have they

been good or bad for the General Assembly thus far, and why?

Ninth District state representative

candidates

Wes Shoemyer: Bad. We had 93 new members who had no idea about the

effect of their actions when they took notes. They blindly followed leadership

instead of voting according to their district, hurting rural Missouri in

the process.

Jeff Hedberg: This debate will probably continue for years. I believe

that term limits have been good for the citizens of the state of Missouri.

Term limits ensure that new blood will enter the legislature on a regular basis

and have given many people the incentive to serve. If you look at the candidates

in this and the previous elections, I believe that you will see a larger cross-section

of life experiences and career backgrounds. This is important because legislation

affects us all, but not everyone the same. The voters approved the term-limit

requirement by a large margin, they know what they want, and can change it

if they see a reason to.

21st District state

representative candidates

Steve Hobbs: No response

Lloyd Becker: Bad. Long-term steerage for our state is almost non-existent.

23rd District state

representative candidates

Jeff Harris: The verdict on term limits is still out. While they

have brought new faces with fresh ideas to Jefferson City, they have also

resulted in a loss of some institutional knowledge and, more importantly,

a breakdown in civility and manners. Elected officials should set a good

example for others. Some of the ill-mannered conduct that we’ve seen in Jefferson

City, in my opinion, is attributable to term limits.

Dan Fischbach: I was not here when term limits were passed, but my

initial reaction was that they may have gone too far. There is certainly

a learning process that makes experience a plus in being an effective legislator.

I personally would have favored allowing 12 years of service for a senator

or representative. I believe two-year terms are too short because representatives

must constantly raise money. At the same time, I recognize the power of incumbency

is daunting, and can result in representatives who stand for interest groups

rather than citizens. While I see both sides of this issue, I believe,

overall, term limits have had a positive effect and it adds vitality and

new ideas when new people are elected.

24th District state

representative candidates

Travis Ballenger: The jobs of state Representative and state Senator

were never intended to be career positions. Term limits allow for the injection

of new blood into the system. I am passionate about working on the issues

that are important to the 24th District. I have so much energy,

determination and more than a decade of real-world small business experience

that I will bring with me to Jefferson City. Without term, limits many well-qualified

candidates would never have an opportunity to serve because of the incumbency

factor.

Ed Robb: No response

25th District state

representative candidates

Judy Baker: Ultimately, of course, Missouri voters are the ones who

will determine whether these term limits have been good or bad. Interestingly,

the average length of service in the Senate prior to term limits was only

slightly over eight years, and in the House, it was actually less than the

eight-year limit that exists now. However, this average is likely to go down

dramatically with term limits in effect. They have brought a multitude of

new faces to the legislature, and given many more people the opportunity

to serve. They have also, however, removed experienced members that were

responsible for passing on institutional knowledge and customs, leading to

a decrease in order and civility. The voters will have to decide this one,

as we observe the continued effects of these short terms.

Bob Northup: They have been good for the General Assembly. With fresh

blood and ideas coming into the decision-making process in Missouri, we are

able to solve problems in new and innovative ways. The newcomers are no longer

held back with “no” and “that won’t work” and “that’s unconstitutional.” They

are not sandbagged by the senior members as before. It is a good concept

to serve your time in the House, get ready for the Senate, then get ready

for a statewide office.

19th District state

senator candidates

Chuck Graham: No response

Mike Ditmore: Some argue that you are losing experience and institutional

knowledge, but I believe the good outweighs the bad. We have an opportunity

to get new people in the legislature with new ideas. We can have people

who have real-world experiences they can draw on when tackling problems such

as providing affordable and accessible healthcare, helping our family farmers

survive and grow, and creating a business-friendly environment to attract

new companies that will create jobs and strengthen our economy.

5. Every candidate for legislature in Boone County has said the foundation

formula for funding public schools needs work to ensure it more equitably

distributes state education money. What are your specific plans for improving

and/or increasing K-12 education funding if elected?

Ninth District state representative

candidates

Wes Shoemyer: First, we should do the right thing and tax the gaming

boats 2 percent more, raise the boarding fee from $2 and also lose the complicated

loss-limits to generate $177 million more for education. We should truly

close corporate loopholes. We also need to be diligent in the rewrite of

the foundation formula to ensure that all kids have access to a world-class

education.

Jeff Hedberg: Missourians expect state government to be accountable

for every education dollar it spends, but don’t want it interfering with

local control of schools. Let our teachers teach by reducing the bureaucracy

and paperwork that reduces the time spent with the actual education of our

children. By working to ensure that 90 percent of every education dollar goes

to the classroom, we can be assured that our tax dollars are used effectively.

21st District state

representative candidates

Steve Hobbs: No response

Lloyd Becker: I will seek to ensure that no student in an impoverished

school district will ever be used as a political pawn again. I will seek

to close loopholes in our state tax system that allow some individuals and

businesses to avoid paying their fair share for educational needs.

23rd District state

representative candidates

Jeff Harris: I’m pleased to be endorsed by every major educational

group in the state of Missouri, from teachers, to administrators, to school

boards. As a member of the Education-Appropriations Committee and Education

Committee, I will advocate a number of different measures. We need better

state oversight of the charter schools in St. Louis and Kansas City. We

need to create incentives for school districts to reduce administrative expenditures

and redirect funds to the classroom. We need to continue to work to reduce

class size, and we need to encourage school districts to have alternative

schools. I have opposed and will continue to oppose any change in the foundation

formula that will reduce the amount of funding for our local schools. We

need a foundation formula that is better funded and that is truly equitable

and that will not harm Columbia and Boone County schools.

Dan Fischbach: It is easily predictable that the current foundation

formula will be deemed unsatisfactory by the courts. Action must be taken

or the courts will decide the issue. To withstand court action, we will probably

have to go in the direction of giving money out on a per-capita basis. State

general revenue increased by 7 percent this year, so there should be adequate

funds available to maintain appropriate state support without increasing

tax rates. We need to continue to reduce the bureaucracy, red tape, excessive

regulations and paper work that reduce the time teachers spend educating

our children.

24th District state

representative candidates

Travis Ballenger: More than 200 school districts are suing the state

because of the lack of funding. Over the years, legislators have placed amendments

on the formula to benefit their districts. Schools argue the current funding

is neither adequate nor equitable. My plan is to fix, modify or rewrite the

foundation formula making it more adequate and more equitable and then fully

funding it. My opponent’s rhetoric about my plan is false. I do not support

an across-the-board tax increase. Individuals and small business owners already

carry the tax burden. I support closing corporate tax loopholes in order

to stop large multi-state corporations from moving their profits out of Missouri

into states that do not tax their profit. By closing the loopholes we can

generate $121 million. Also, I support eliminating the casino loss-limit

and slightly increasing taxes on casino boat owners, which will generate

$115 million. Every major state teachers association in Missouri has endorsed

my campaign because I have the right plan for education.

Ed Robb: No response

25th District state

representative candidates

Judy Baker: It may be premature to make specific proposals at the

state level before we see whether the federal “No Child Left Behind Act” is

fully funded next year. In any case, we should make certain that Missouri

is in full compliance with federal requirements for this and all other federal

programs, so that we can receive all of the federal funds to which the schoolchildren

of the state are entitled. Though the “equity” of the distribution of state

educational funds may be viewed differently in different parts of the state,

it is certain that all Missourians have a stake in the success of our students,

no matter what corner of the state from which they may come. Those who are

closely involved with the foundation formula should have their expertise

solicited. Rather than the allocation of those financial resources, what

may be more important is the overall level of funding. If, as it appears,

the state’s overall economy is improving, there may be more revenue available

next year with which to fund education. If we could restore the proportion

of funding that had been typical before all the cuts in the last few years,

it would be a good start.

Bob Northup: We need to free the foundation formula from county taxation

yet preserve local school boards to oversee local needs, which vary. Funding

should be placed under the state, which would see that education funding

be given equally to each child in public school. Facilities such as buildings,

equipment, etc., should be given to school districts according to their individual

needs. I feel that would work. I am open to all directives to see that each

student in Missouri is able to excel to the maximum of their individual abilities.

I believe that education, from kindergarten through doctoral programs, is

the most fundamental social infrastructure in society and should be so when

it comes to funding of students, facilities and teachers.

19th District state

senator candidates

Chuck Graham: No response

Mike Ditmore: My plan will take political courage. There are many

out there who do not want to address fixing the foundation because it will

be too hard “politically.” But I believe that it is the legislature’s job,

not the court’s job, to find a solution to equitably fund our schools. I

want to bring stakeholders together, such as teachers, administrators, school

boards and parents, to help work out a solution that stabilizes school funding

and distributes education money in an equitable manner. This is not a problem

that will be fixed by pointing fingers or by simply putting more money into

a system that currently is not equitably distributing education money. There

are no easy answers to this problem, but I promise not to point fingers and

not make our children pawns in a political game.

6. What is your take on the state of agriculture in Missouri? What can

the legislature do, if anything, to improve the life of family farmers?

Ninth District state representative

candidates

Wes Shoemyer: We should pass the legislation I’ve sponsored for three

years known as the Seed Availability and Competition Act. It would

restore a farmer’s right to retain his own seed and save soybean farms $20

per acre in production costs and help our local seed houses stay in business.

I am a strong supporter of farmers markets and believe Missouri is positioned

to connect our consumers to producers to help dollars in our local economies.

I’ll fight like the farm depends on it, because mine does.

Jeff Hedberg: By minimizing regulations and recognizing property

rights, we can return to the commonsense values that are instilled in family

farms. Value-added agriculture is a way to increase the profitability of the

farm. Products derived from home-grown commodities such as ethanol, soy diesel

and bio-based goods enhance the state’s agricultural economy by increasing

the prices paid. Ethanol production has added new jobs and increased the tax

base. New business ventures in soy-based products should be encouraged as well.

21st District state

representative candidates

Steve Hobbs: No response

Lloyd Becker: We have the smartest farmers in the world, a lot of

whom have some college or a degree. We must keep corporations from controlling

and setting limits on the farmer’s right to control the product they produce

and guard against unfair prices set by multi-national companies who seek

to hold down farm prices and leave the farmer with little or no profit margin.

23rd District state

representative candidates

Jeff Harris: We need to do a better job of funding ethanol and promoting

alternative fuels. We need to support the sustainable agriculture degree-granting

program at the University of Missouri. We need to take stronger steps in

the fight against methamphetamine, which plagues rural Missouri, including

tougher sentences and adequate treatment. We need to promote Missouri’s agricultural

products, and we need to improve economic opportunity in rural Missouri by

promoting regional skills alliances. We also need to make sure that we support

our rural public schools.

Dan Fischbach: Overall, I believe agriculture in the state is holding

its own. However, having grown up on a family cattle ranch, I am well aware

of the threat to the traditional family farm. The trend toward concentrated

production has taken over poultry production, and hog production is moving

in the same direction. These operations must be scrutinized to ensure environmental

compliance. We must continue to support ethanol and bio-diesel production

as these enterprises also serve to reduce reliance on foreign oil.

24th District state

representative candidates

Travis Ballenger: I was brought up on a small farm and I understand

the challenges facing family farmers. I will support increased ethanol production,

which will increase the demand for farmers’ corn here in Missouri. This will

allow farmers to realize increased prices for their corn. I support legislation

like the Seed Availability and Competition Act, which would allow farmers

who use genetically-modified seed to retain their seed by paying a reasonable

fee per-bushel to the patent holder, saving Missouri farmers millions of

dollars annually. I would support local farmers' markets that provide accessible

local markets for our farmers’ goods. I oppose my opponent’s straight per-pupil

distribution plan, which would hurt rural school districts. I would fully

fund our rural schools and oppose consolidating rural school districts. If

elected, I want to serve on the Agriculture Committee because I want to improve

the life of family farmers in Missouri.

Ed Robb: No response

25th District state

representative candidates

Judy Baker: Agriculture is vitally important in Missouri. Only one

state has more farms, and according to the state’s Department of Agriculture

(see “Missouri Farm Facts 2003” at

href="http://agebb.missouri.edu/mass/farmfact/">http://agebb.missouri.edu/mass/farmfact/ ),

Missouri ranks in the top 10 states in no fewer than 21 categories of commodity

production. Of course, agricultural pricing and production policies are made

at the federal level, and the state legislature plays no role in that. There

are some things that the state can do to help the economics of Missouri agriculture.

We can continue to support the top-quality agricultural research done at

the University that helps Missouri farmers remain competitive in world markets.

We can continue to invest in value-added agriculture, so that our farmers

can capture higher profits for the commodities they produce. We can continue

to promote Missouri agricultural products to consumers through public information

channels, farmers markets, and the like. However, the well-being of Missouri’s

family farmers has to do with more than simply the economics of their production. We

must make sure that farm families, along with all Missourians, have access

to health care, educational opportunities, transportation and technology

infrastructure, and supplemental employment opportunities as appropriate.

The developing ethanol industry holds some promise as well for providing

Missouri farmers with new markets. However, to help the small farmer, we

must promote farming co-ops through which to get this product to market.

Bob Northup: We need to free family farmers from the yoke of the

commodities market and help them face up to the challenge of intruding corporate

agriculture. Therefore, I would expand the idea of farmers markets to include

many forms of “grow local/buy local” programs. Old, antiquated laws that

keep farmers cooperative efforts from processing their commodities and selling

them in their own grocery stores need to be changed. Mankind has to be reeducated

from time to time that we do have to eat. Breaking the economic backs

of family farms is not conducive to wholesome food production.

19th District state

senator candidates

Chuck Graham: No response

Mike Ditmore: Our family farmers need help. We need to develop rural

economic development policies and infrastructure to invigorate agricultural

market opportunities and re-grow rural Missouri. I want to invest in programs

such as the ethanol and biodiesel incentive funds, so farmers can benefit

from the value-added benefits of the crops they grow and produce. I want

to increase funding for public agricultural research programs that provide

benefits to family farmers. I believe that we need to reduce the unnecessary

and burdensome regulations on our family farmers which make it difficult

to operate and survive. I want to promote proactive planning to take full

advantage of new and existing market opportunities, domestic and international.

7. List the three best reasons for living in Missouri and the three best

reasons for moving away.

Ninth District state representative

candidates

Wes Shoemyer: Speaking as someone who lives in the house they grew

up in, family community and great natural beauty are important. If you move,

most likely you’ll pay higher taxes, won’t find friendlier people and you’ll

have to pay more for housing. So, I think I’ll stay awhile longer to try

to make Missouri even better.

Jeff Hedberg: The number one reason would be the people that live

in the Ninth District. The overall quality of life and recreational opportunities

would be near the top as well. I believe the state of Missouri is known as

a bellwether state because it is a true reflection of the values that are important

to every American.

The rising cost of medical malpractice insurance is already driving physicians

out of the state. Workman compensation premiums place businesses at a disadvantage

with other states. The threat that our overall tax burden will be increased.

21st District state

representative candidates

Steve Hobbs: No response

Lloyd Becker: It is a colder cold, it is a hotter hot. When it is

in the middle, that’s Missouri, and it is good, from the big water to a raceway

to a porch swing on a Sunday afternoon.

23rd District state

representative candidates

Jeff Harris: I am an unabashed booster of the state of Missouri,

and in the tradition of Harry Truman and so many other great Missourians,

I’m proud to call myself a native Missourian. My ancestors came to Missouri

in the 1820s and we’ve been here ever since. Missouri is a great place to

live, it’s a great place to work and it’s a great place to raise a family.

My wife and I live here because we want to live here, not because we have

to. We like being close to our families, and we appreciate the values that

we Missourians share. We wouldn’t want to move away.

Dan Fischbach: Only three best for living here? I must confess, Missouri

was not on my list when my wife went job-hunting after completing her Ph.D.

in 1997. However, one house-hunting trip changed all that. Overall, it’s

summed up in quality of life. Specifically, it’s the vibrancy that is inherent

in a university city, the grandeur of the outdoors, and the wonderful people

I’ve met since moving to Columbia. Three reasons for moving? Roads, roads,

roads.

24th District state

representative candidates

Travis Ballenger: Growing up on a small Missouri farm, I have an

appreciation for our natural heritage in Missouri. We need to protect places

of unique geological and natural interest. I would work to ensure our children

and grandchildren will enjoy places like Rock Bridge and Lake of the Ozarks.

Missouri has great economic potential. We need to foster the small business

climate that will provide the real jobs of the future. I want to make certain

our children get the education they need to keep Missouri competitive in

the 21st Century. Having family in Boone County makes Missouri

great for me. I was born here, raised here and have lived in Missouri all

of my life. This community is my home, and I am committed to keeping it a

great place to live. We need to fix the state's revenue problems to ensure

our quality life. Then we can fully fund our children's education and repair

our crumbling infrastructure.

Ed Robb: No response

25th District state

representative candidates

Judy Baker: One of the best reasons for living in Missouri is the

breadth of opportunity available for personal success, in whatever way an

individual chooses to define that. Secondly, we have a great and healthy

diversity of geography and culture, and that enriches our lives. Finally,

we Missourians, when united by a common cause, feel that there is nothing

we can’t accomplish if we work hard enough. We must continue to work so that

people don’t choose to leave Missouri for some of the reasons that people

leave other states—that there is a limit to their employment opportunity,

that educational opportunities are lacking or beyond their reach, or that

they feel unsafe or unwelcome.

Bob Northup: For living in Missouri: 1. A refreshingly low tax base;

2. A wonderful opportunity for recreation with our wonderful clean-water

streams and beautiful parks; and 3. Friendly, open people who abound with

great ideas for a better tomorrow. For moving away: I’m a fifth-generation

native. I cannot imagine one good reason to move away.

19th District state

senator candidates

Chuck Graham: No response

Mike Ditmore: We are lucky to live in Missouri’s 19th Senate

District. We have world class public and private universities like the University

of Missouri, Columbia College, Stephens College and Moberly Area Community

College. We also have some of the best elementary and secondary schools in

the country. We have outstanding health care facilities, fantastic

medical specialists and a multitude of options for care, and the tremendously

low unemployment and crime we have in mid-Missouri make it an outstanding

place to go to school, get medical help and raise a family.


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