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6th Senate District candidates answer Prop A, tax cut questions

6th Senate District candidates answer Prop A, tax cut questions

July 29th, 2018 by Bob Watson in Local News

After recent candidate forums, the News Tribune asked those running for state offices some follow-up questions posed by readers.

Here are the responses to some of those questions from the Democratic candidates for the 6th District Missouri Senate seat, who seek to represent most of Jefferson City.

Responses may have been edited for length and clarity.

In the order they are listed on the ballot, the candidates are Bryan Struebig, Nicole Thompson and Mollie Freebairn.

The winner of the Aug. 7 primary will face Republican Mike Bernskoetter and Libertarian Steven Wilson in the Nov. 6 general election. Neither has an opponent in the primary and, therefore, they were not included in this story.

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From readers Jeanine Kunz and Jeannie McGowan: How do you stand on Prop A, right to work and prevailing wages?

Struebig: I am a very firm NO on Prop A. If union wages decrease, so do non-union wages, except at a much quicker rate. Union membership has increased in RTW states — because those are the only blue collar jobs that pay a living wage. Prevailing wage change will only lead to a lower standard of living and building in our rural communities. Labor only makes up 20 percent of a construction project. The change to prevailing wage laws will only fill the pockets of general contractors and middlemen (while) local economies suffer from lower wages.

Thompson: I am voting No on Prop A. I do not buy into the argument that businesses will relocate to Missouri if we are a "right-to-work" state. Businesses are far more likely to base their location decisions on the quality of the workforce, and Prop A has the potential to make it more difficult for employers to manage their employment contracts. I believe that Prop A is wrong for Missouri because similar legislation in other states has been shown to hurt workers through fewer benefits and protections and drive down wages for everyone.

Freebairn: The rise of the middle class was made possible by workers who organized into unions and negotiated with their company management for better wages and benefits. Right to work is a union-busting measure that the Republican super-majority has finally pushed through the Legislature after years of effort.

From readers Tony and Jenny Smith: If all the recent cuts in state taxes did not provide economic stimulus and were proven to negatively impact services such as public schools, infrastructure, infant mortality rates and Head Start programs, similar to what has happened in Kansas, could you support restoring some of those tax revenues?

Struebig: I am opposed to the most recent tax cut that was signed into law, as well as the phase-out of the corporate franchise tax. The burden of these tax cuts will be shouldered by individuals in the form of higher sales taxes and property taxes. Tax cuts do not create jobs; increased demand for goods and services creates jobs and business opportunities. Tax cuts for corporations only increase shareholder wealth. Voters will have to decide to re-institute those taxes due to the Hancock Amendment.

Thompson: I believe restoring the corporate tax rate will likely be necessary to provide adequate funding for infrastructure and education in Missouri. I believe businesses base their location decisions more on the availability of such resources than on the state's tax rate.

Freebairn: If history serves as any guide, this outcome is a virtual certainty. State taxes have been trending downward since the passage of the Hancock Amendment in 1980. If cutting taxes was that solution to revitalizing the economy, Missouri would be a leading state in education (and) infrastructure, among other indicators where we are lagging behind. We are 50th in state employee salaries — which (state Sen. Mike) Kehoe concluded the only way to raise some workers' pay is to fire others, sponsoring SB 1007 to eliminate the merit system. State Treasurer Eric Schmitt continues pushing for changes to state pensions.

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From reader Stan Cowen: Forty-one of 50 state Capitol buildings are smoke-free. For a number of years, a handful of Republican legislative leaders have repeatedly refused to expand a smoke-free policy in the Missouri Capitol to include legislators' offices. Would you support a smoke-free policy for the entire Capitol building? Why or why not?

Struebig: Until I read this question, I had no idea that you could still smoke in the Capitol. I would be in favor of creating a designated smoking zone. I do not believe that legislators should be able to smoke in their offices.

Thompson: I would support expanding the smoke-free policy to cover the entire Capitol Building. Maintaining a smoke-free building makes the Capitol more welcoming to the public, protects the health of those who work there, and prevents smoke damage to the beautiful Capitol artwork and other interior fixtures.

Freebairn: It sounds like an indoor air quality problem — although I've never smelled cigarette smoke in any of the offices, having stopped by all of them to discuss the issues over the years. I'm an ex-smoker, and know how upsetting it is to be told I can't light up. Better to have a loved one, a child, ask them to quit. They are cutting quality out of their time and years off their life. (There's an) 800 percent higher risk of lung cancer. It is a powerful addiction. Once they decide to quit, and keep on trying, eventually they'll succeed.