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News Tribune readers contributed some of the questions asked during last week's state Senate candidates forum, but not all of the questions received were asked during the hour-long program.

Three candidates are on the Nov. 6 ballot for the seven-county 6th Senate District, which covers Cole, Moniteau, Morgan, Miller, Maries, Osage and Gasconade counties.

In the order they appear on the ballot, the candidates are Republican Mike Bernskoetter, Democrat Nicole Thompson and Libertarian Steven Wilson.

The candidates were asked one of those reader questions late in the week, and they provided answers by email.

Answers have been edited for length and clarity.

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In the past, the Legislature has focused on cutting corporate and high-income tax rates as a way to encourage economic growth. Yet, many companies cite the need for adequate transportation, infrastructure, health care, public and higher education, and state government services as essential to determining where they locate. If elected, what would be your approach to expanding economic development in the state?

Bernskoetter: "I believe businesses look at three things when choosing to expand — do we have a business friendly environment to grow and be successful; an educated workforce to help produce products; and the necessary infrastructure to transport goods to market?

"Missouri has worked to create a pro-jobs regulatory and tax structure to encourage businesses to grow and thrive; provided record funding for our schools by fully funding the foundation formula; and next month, voters can raise the fuels tax to improve Missouri's infrastructure.

"I will continue working in these focused areas to grow jobs and expand economic opportunities in Missouri."

Thompson: "In addition to ensuring that we have a trained workforce through a solid public education system, and the infrastructure needed to support business, I will work to ensure that our government systems are transparent and accessible.

"I believe we need more business consultation programs in the state that will help business owners and entrepreneurs navigate our systems of taxes, insurance, and regulations. One of the most important factors for business growth is reducing uncertainty, and these types of programs can help in this area."

Wilson: "I promote converting I-70 and I-44 into tollways with three lanes and a speed rail, which would help employers move product, receive materials and gain access to high-skilled workers. Well-maintained roadways will keep freight costs down.

"Reducing violent crime rates would improve companies' insurance premiums, helping their competitiveness.

"Replacing high school with a dozen more schools like State Tech would help workers gain an advantage. Business wants a partnership for the long term with the state, not governments that regularly change business environment conditions.

"Made in Missouri can be our future, if there's no government presence."

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