Candidates debate education, public school financing

The Faurot 30 and representative pay raises were also discussed.
Representative Chris Kelly, D-Columbia, reacts to a question during the The Associated Students of the University of Missouri debate Wednesday at the MU Student Center. Candidates from various districts of the Missouri House of Representatives debated several topics, ranging from campus to state issues.

Candidates running for seats in the Missouri House of Representatives met for a debate Wednesday in the MU Student Center. The election is set for Nov. 2.

The Associated Students of the University of Missouri, the Missouri Students Association, the American Association of University Professors and the Graduate Students Association sponsored the debate.

Candidates present included Democrat Kelly Schultz, of the 21st district, Democrat Stephen Webber, of the 23rd district, Democrat Chris Kelly and Republican Laura Nauser, of the 24th district, and Democrat Mary Still, of the 25th district, who is running unopposed. Schultz’s opponent, Republican incumbent John Cauthorn, was not present. Webber said his opponent, Republican Paul Szopa, was not present due to “good family reasons.”

The debate was primarily focused on higher education and financing public schools.

“If no revenue is found, the folks in this room will pay one way or the other,” Webber said, referring to students.

Still agreed and said no more cuts can be made without raising revenue. As a way to increase funding, she said she would like to increase cigarette taxes.

Later in the debate, after Nauser arrived, Kelly said he would like to continue to push his bond legislation that would help increase construction on state university campuses. Although Nauser said she agreed, she said she would still want to look for cost savings.

“I would not support any cuts to education,” Nauser said.

She said she would like to take a fine comb to the state budget and cut unnecessary programs to save money. Nauser also said she would have to see when she gets elected into office what programs would be best to cut.

Later in the debate, Nauser said looking into privatizing programs could also be beneficial to save money. Her constituents want lower taxes, so that is what she going to campaign for, she said.

“Every single politician in the universe says ‘I will cut unnecessary programs' without naming the programs,” Kelly said. “The fact of the matter is, if we don’t do something without revenue, the reality is that is not going to do something without impacting education.”

Webber said the budget cannot be cut without cutting education.

“It is not possible to go through the budget and not touch education,” he said.

After the debate on higher education issues, members of the audience could submit questions to the panel. One student asked legislators about the students arrested for rushing Farout Field after MU won against the University of Oklahoma.

Both Still and Nauser said it was not a legislative issue and should be left up to law enforcement.

Kelly said, as a former judge, he felt it would be inappropriate for him to comment.

Schultz said she hopes MU finds traditions that do not cost the university money.

Another audience member asked how the candidates felt about voting themselves pay raises.

Nauser, the only Republican candidate in attendance, said, “I would not vote for myself for a pay raise as the state legislature.” Candidates got to close the debate with their main goals.

Kelly said he promises citizens he will continue to try to bridge the bipartisan gap.

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