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Author Topic: Candidates for governor vow not to raise taxes if elected  (Read 979 times)

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Offline littlebit

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Candidates for governor vow not to raise taxes if elected
« on: April 13, 2008, 04:17:27 PM »

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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) -- The three leading candidates for governor - Democrat Jay Nixon and Republicans Kenny Hulshof and Sarah Steelman - promise they won't raise taxes if elected.Steelman announced this week that she had signed a national organization's pledge not to raise taxes during her term in office."My record shows it, and I want every Missourian to know for certain, there will be no new taxes in a Steelman administration," Steelman, the state treasurer, said in the prepared statement.Spokesmen for Hulshof, a Columbia congressman, and Nixon, the Missouri attorney general, quickly followed suit with similar promises to not raise taxes.While a common strategy by politicians to prove their financial frugality, the "no new taxes" claim concerns political observers who worry that as the general economy continues to falter, Missouri will have less flexibility to properly fund education, health and other necessary programs."I would say this ranks up there with the most disingenuous campaign statements in the history of the world," said Missouri State University political science professor George Connor. "Look at what happened to (Gov. Bob Holden) who had to cut services. Ask any university president, ask any recipient of any government service what happens when we don't raise taxes."Holden, a Democrat, spent most of his term fighting with Republicans over spending. When the Republican legislature refused to increase taxes, his administration was forced to cut services, most notably in higher education.Lawmakers have already cut back on key program in Gov. Matt Blunt's agenda, including a plan to increase training of health care professionals in Missouri colleges and universities and another to provide private insurance for the working poor.Other concerns are the state's crumbling transportation infrastructure and the elimination of a state tax on Social Security benefits cutting into overall revenue.Meanwhile, the state constitution prohibits a budget deficit and requires that voters sign off on any tax increases."If the economy is going to crater, not this July but next July, and the three candidates for governor know that, then this is just election banter. It's meaningless," Connor said. "If Steelman and Hulshof and Nixon don't realize how bad the economy is going to get, then they need to go back to school on the Missouri budget. I don't want to vote for any of them if they're going to say, 'I'm not going to raise taxes.'"Hulshof spokesman Scott Baker said Hulshof would balance the budget through "aggressively fighting waste and prioritizing.""The bottom line is, this whole argument that you either need to slash programs across the board or raise taxes is not true," Baker said. "You have to establish your priorities, and that includes making tough decisions. If you do that, you can balance the state's budget. People said that Matt Blunt couldn't balance the budget without raising taxes. And he did."One of Blunt's moves was to cut funding to the state's Medicaid program, which has not been met well by the public and has fueled most Democratic campaigns in recent years."If you're truly a leader and you are truly going to prioritize your programs, ... you can't please everybody," Baker said. "But those are the kind of tough choices that leaders have to make, and they are what Kenny's prepared to do."Doug Gaston, a Steelman adviser, said the key is understanding how the budget process works, charging that Hulshof's congressional experience insulates him from dealing with state government issues."That is her commitment to taxpayers," Gaston said of Steelman. "If the state brings in less, it spends less. Her record shows Sarah won't tax and spend the way they do in Washington."Nixon spokesman Oren Shur said Nixon would "spend money in a more responsible way" and would give tax cuts "for people who need it." For example, he would support giving property tax cuts to the elderly and make college tuition tax deductible.
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