Treasurer candidates debate in Columbia
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Treasurer candidates debate in Columbia

Date: September 12, 2008
By: Emily Coleman
State Capitol Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - The two candidates for Missouri Treasurer agreed Friday that tax credits should continue to be used for economic development.

Sen. Brad Lager, R-Maryville, and Rep. Clint Zweifel, D-St. Louis County, spoke at a debate in Columbia sponsored by the Missouri Press Association.

The state has several tax credit programs to promote economic development through business expansion that adds new jobs or assisting development in  economically distressed area.

Zweifel stressed the need to use tax credits along with other options for various objectives.

"I view (tax credits) for my own philosophy is as a tool in the toolbox," Zweifel said. "So, in other words, credit, investments in higher education, investments in early and elementary childhood education, business climate: those are all different tools in the toolbox."

The candidates both said they felt transparency was necessary for trust to be built between taxpayers and the government.

"For me, what's most is important is that there is accountability and oversight," Lager said. "All too often, what happens is that once the tax credit is passed, there is never a process by which the General Assembly ever comes back and actually reviews (the tax credits' effectiveness)."

The candidates also agreed the college savings program is a good way to get parents saving for their children's education. Lager said, the Missouri program is one of the best in the nation and is "a step in the right direction."

Zweifel said, he was in favor of allowing parents to participate in savings programs in any state they chose to, and he voiced a concern about high costs due to fees. He said, the fees for the adviser portion of the plan are some of the highest in the country.

"One of the things I think Sarah Steelman has done providing on, that I intend on championing is her efforts in terror-free investments," Lager said. "I don't believe that our money should be invested in funds that help aid countries or entities that buy bullets to shoot at our men and women overseas."

Republican Steelman has promoted terror-free investment with a program that went into effect July 2006. Lager said he also wants to encourage the private sector to do the same.

Zweifel, however, sounded a different theme in his closing remarks.

"The status quo at this point is just not acceptable," Zweifel said as he went through areas that he thought needed help, including higher education, health care and the economy in general.


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