GOP gubernatorial candidates talk economy, infrastructure, education

Three of the Missouri Republican candidates for governor proposed plans during Tuesday night’s debate to reshape the state’s economy, infrastructure and education system.

To boost the state’s economy, Catherine Hanaway, the former Missouri house speaker and U.S. attorney, urged the state government to reduce income tax, pass “right-to-work” legislation, enact tort reform and restore technological education. Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder said the state should focus on creating an environment friendly to startups, entrepreneurs and venture capital. Businessman John Brunner said the economic problem was fundamentally a jobs problem, which requires reform of tax and labor regulations.


As for improving utility infrastructure, Brunner stressed the importance of having a vision, planning and executing. Kinder said the state government should work more closely with investors and seek legislative solutions. Hanaway said the federal government should give the state more freedom for growth. She said that federal regulations would increase utility costs by almost half.

In response to a question about how to solve the state’s transportation and infrastructure issues, Hanaway emphasized her desire to cut the state income tax and then potentially fund the transportation budget with gas tax revenue.

“I want to cut the income tax, then perhaps later we can reemphasize and prioritize spending more on roads and bridges through the gas tax without raising Missourians’ taxes one red cent,” she said.

Kinder said the state’s citizens should have the power to approve or reject spending proposals.

Brunner indicated that it’s crucial to have a feasible plan first and foremost. “We’ve got to rebuild our roads and bridges,” he said, “and we need a plan if we’re going to incorporate this vision.”


The candidates also talked about higher education. Kinder and Brunner said more competitive and representative presidents, chancellors and faculty members should be hired first to make Missouri education institutes more appealing. Kinder said improving the University of Missouri System starts at the top, with the board of curators.

“We should have eminent leaders from science, from business, an engineer, a leader from agribusiness should be on that board,” Kinder said.

Hanaway focused on the importance of controlling tuition costs.

Public safety

In the wake of Orlando shooting, public safety was a prominent theme. Hanaway blamed a law-enforcement breakdown and stressed the importance of leadership in preventing similar tragedies from happening in Missouri. Kinder and Brunner also emphasized the significance of leadership, second-amendment rights and effective law enforcement.

The debate, a part of the annual Missouri Boys State session, was moderated by Missouri Times publisher Scott Faughn at the University of Central Missouri in Warresnburg.

Eric Greitens, the nonprofit CEO and former Navy SEAL who’s also running for governor, wasn’t present Tuesday. According to The Missouri Times, Greitens spoke to Boys State last year, but he declined to attend the forum.

Photo courtesy of @PeterKinder/Twitter

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