OREGON COUNTY -- Reporter's note: Both state representatives candidates were recently given the same questions and asked to reply. Following are the questions and the candidates' answers.
Question #1: We have seen Missouri take steps to help seniors afford their prescription drugs. What else can be done, if anything, to help our older citizens have a high quality of life?
DETHROW: One of the ways to help our older citizens is property tax relief. This type of help has been proposed for the last several years in the state legislature and one of the proposals is the Homestead Exemption. This would either freeze a senior citizen's taxes or eliminate those taxes on the home where the person resides. With reassessment happening every two years, the property taxes on many of our senior citizens have risen dramatically and this would help our older neighbors with this ever increasing cost. Another thing that has been proposed to help seniors is the expansion of the state no-call list to help eliminate more of the telemarketers who prey on many of our senior citizens. I would also like to work to improve some of the services that our seniors already enjoy. This past year when the proposal was put fourth to eliminate the homebound meals program, I contacted some of our state legislators and let them know how important the program was to many of our homebound seniors. I also delivered many of the meals firsthand and saw how this important program really helps many of our seniors stay in their homes.
JACKSON: It is important that we protect the Senior Prescription Program during a budget crunch we are currently experiencing and work to make sure that the program adequately covers the needs of our seniors. I will work for programs that help seniors live independent lives like Meals on Wheels and OATS Transportation. These programs keep seniors in control of their lives instead of the state. Finally, we need to make sure that if the time comes for our seniors to move to a nursing home, that it is a safe place for them to call home. As state representative, I will work for tougher laws to protect the abuse and neglect of our seniors.
Question #2: What do you feel are the most important issues to your district and the entire state? If elected, how do you plan to address these issues?
JACKSON: There are many issues that are important to the people of the 153rd district. As a member of the health profession I know that health care is a problem that we need to address. We need to make sure that adequate health care is available, especially in rural Missouri. We must also make sure that doctors and patients are making decisions not insurance companies. Education is also a big concern for the people of this district. Rural schools deserve their fair share of funding from the state and I will work hard to make sure that happens. We must fully fund the school formula. It is important we put schools before baseball stadiums. Taxes must go for student lunch boxes and not third base luxury boxes. Our roads are still in horrible shape even though we have paid a lot of our tax dollars to get them fixed. It is important that we make MoDOT accountable to the taxpayers. They have a $1.9 billion budget and don't answer to anyone. As a state representative, I will make sure that MoDOT is held accountable for the way they spend OUR money.
DETHROW: Nothing helps an individual succeed in life better than a good job. I would like to work for better jobs and more income for the people of this district. We need to work to make Missouri the type of state that businesses look to and locate in to provide these jobs. I would work for legislation that would create a business friendly atmosphere so that businesses would look to this area for expansion. We need to work on helping small business people in this district, not building baseball stadiums for rich people in St. Louis. In our district, a public transportation system would go a long way to making this area more appealing to business location and expansion. Better roads would also make travel safer and more convenient for the people who live here now. Our transportation system could be very good if accountability measures could be put into place and I would work to make these accountability measures a reality. I also want to see families in the district have access to quality affordable healthcare. For a long time, the state has been expanding programs and sacrificing the quality of some of those same programs. Today, there are many kids in this district covered under Medicaid that cannot get access to needed services. It does not do any good to provide the coverage but not the access to healthcare. Currently, I am not aware of a dentist in the area who will routinely take Medicaid patients because state reimbursement rates are so low. The break-even for a dentist is 60 cents on a dollar and the state pays 30 cents, so we have to increase state reimbursements to encourage dentists in our district to see low income kids. When elected, I would like to help the state and federal government work together to see the people of this district have access to quality, affordable healthcare for their families. One of the things I want to look into is the possibility of a federally qualified health center which would help provide access to health care services for all families in the district.
Reporter's note: See next weeks SMN for the remainder of the questions and answers with the state representative candidates.