Both major party candidates running for lieutenant governor say Missouri must invest in transportation.
State Sen. Mike Parson (R-Bolivar) and former U.S. Rep. Russ Carnahan (D-St. Louis) spoke at Monday’s forum in Jefferson City, which was co-hosted by Missourinet and Brownfield Ag News.
Parson notes he voted for State Sen. Doug Libla’s (R-Poplar Bluff) bill this year, to raise Missouri’s motor fuel tax by 5.9 cents per gallon, from 17 cents to 22.9 cents per gallon. The proposed increase, which was approved by the Missouri Senate and by a House Committee, would have gone to a statewide vote. Libla’s measure did not make it to the House floor.
“I did it because it was the right thing to do. I didn’t care about me running for lieutenant governor of the state of Missouri,” Parson says. “I voted to give the people a choice if they wanted to vote for a use tax on gas. That’s the only thing I did.”
Senator Parson sponsored a $300 million bonding package in 2015, which Governor Jay Nixon (D) signed. It funds maintenance projects at public properties, including the state Capitol.
Russ Carnahan served on the U.S. House Transportation Committee. Carnahan notes two highways in eastern Missouri’s Jefferson County were among the ten deadliest roads in the nation, when he served.
“And they had nicknames like ‘Blood Alley’ and ‘Death Valley’, and there was a citizens group that was organized from families who had lost loved ones on these highways. And, these roads weren’t even on the state highway plan,” says Carnahan.
Carnahan says he worked with both parties to make safety improvements on those two highways. He favors a grassroots plan that would allow residents to determine local infrastructure priorities and decide their fate at the ballot box.
The state Department of Transportation (MODOT) says Missouri saw a 14 percent increase in traffic crash fatalities between 2014-2015, from 766 to 870.
During Monday’s forum, Carnahan and Parson clashed over the issue of ethics and valet parking at the Missouri State Capitol in Jefferson City. Carnahan’s campaign is airing a television commercial featuring Senator Parson’s former chief of staff, former State Rep. Bubs Hohulin (R-Lamar). Carnahan says Hohulin is correct in saying that Parson supported valet parking at the Capitol for legislators.
“Senator Parson stood on the floor of the Senate and offered an amendment to add $50,000 for parking services for legislators in the Capitol. That’s a fact, you can look at the record in the Senate,” Carnahan told Parson.
But Parson says the ad is a lie.
“You will never find one instance where I talked about valet parking in the State Capitol. Never. It is an outright lie, period,” Parson says. “If you want to know where it came from, it came from a liberal paper in St. Louis, and a Democrat that did it.”
Parson also says Carnahan and others spent $50,000 in taxpayer money on a trip to Antarctica. Carnahan says Parson took more than 900 gifts from lobbyists, totaling $45,000.
You can watch the entire 57-minute forum on missourinet.com.
There are two other candidates on the November ballot: Libertarian Party nominee Steven Hedrick and Green Party nominee Jennifer Leach.