The Knoxville Journal-Express held its forum for the candidates for Iowa House District 28 and Senate District 14. House candidates Megan Suhr and Greg Heartsill and Senate candidates Amy Sinclair and Dick Schrad participated.
"We need more people to have a say in government," Schrad said during his opening statement. "Tearing down government isn't the answer though. I believe in fully funding early child literacy and ensuring education."
Suhr commented that she is concerned with issues regarding small businesses.
"No one was standing up for our district (in the past)," Suhr said. "After observing the last several years at the State Capitol I am aware of many issues and have relationships on both sides of the isle. I feel that is a great advantage for our district. I am also for funding education - out schools need help."
Heartsill reflected on his past experiences running on a business during his opening comments.
"A appreciate the needs of small businesses," Heartsill said. "I keep hearing out state government is broken. I think they have forgotten who's the boss - the people. I want to be someone who works and helps grow the Iowa economy. I don't have all the answers, but I am told that I am a hard worker and listen well."
Sinclair commented that she wants to be a voice for the district.
"I want to be a voice for our family and yours," she said. "Iowa families are stronger when the economy is vibrant. The tax structure (currently) is inhibiting business. My convictions will make Iowa stronger and is why I am the best option for senate."
Road repair funding issues
"The problem I have is many DOT projects are being done in the urban areas," Sinclair said "Adequate funding needs to be discussed and the the taxing structure needs to be looked at."
"The Road Use Tax Fund needs to be healthy," Schrad said. "We will need to look where funding will come from. The (projected) shortfall over the next 10 years is a problem."
"There is a lot of different ways we can find the funds," Suhr said. "We are going to have to do something. It will have to in 2013-14. There hasn't been a mismanagement of funds."
"We must balance this issue and gas prices with the sluggish economy," Heartsill said. "Road conditions are effected by gas prices. The default answer should not be to raise taxes. That would be foolish."
Dealing with situations where constituents feel differently than the political party's position
"I am choosing people over politics," Suhr said. "I want to represent the people at home, not an agenda. I want to be honest, even with tough decisions."
"We need to have push back on the party if the issue is not beneficial for the district," Heartsill said.
"We need to work within the party," Schrad said. "It's worth a try."
"Words matter," Sinclair said. "I will represent the people and not the party. I won't be that person who won't listen."
Voting security concerns
"The system is susceptible to fraud," Heartsill said. "The Secretary of State has some good ideas. We need to make sure our elections are fair and honest. Voter ID is a great idea."
"I am hearing it's not a problem," Suhr said. "Polling places are small and rural - it's Iowa after all. I am not sure why we are speaning money on this if there isn't a problem. I would rather have roads than voter ID."
"Not a problem?," Sinclair questioned. "Yet there has been fraud charged. We need to do everything to do away with same day voter registration. It opens a can of worms for fraud. We need to tighten up the mess that is absentee voting."
"My concern is by cracking down on this, expansions in the Secretary of State's Office will need to happen," Schrad said. "What is the priority? If this is a widespread problem, then by all means, but I don't feel it is."
More specific and defined legislation is passed as a way to lessen power of the rule-writing process
"There are times legislature will need to be," Schrad said. "The bureaucrats can't make all the decisions. It's a problem, I realize that."
"Of course we need to be more specific," Sinclair said. "Less misunderstanding, the better. Frankly, if you don't make it specific, don't vote on it."
"There is enough instability in business already," Heartsill said.
"Many have the opportunity to weigh in on legislation," Suhr said. "The tightening up process takes place already."
Affordable energy concerns
"I would like to see more solar and wind energy," Suhr said. "Nuclear power has been put on hold."
"We need to expand the busload generation capacity," Heartsill said. "Government and regulations is effecting the ability to grow. Coal is the cheapest way and technology is there to use if efficiently."
"The costs will be there," Schrad said. "We need to find a positive way to use coal. I am for looking into natural gas options as well."
"I am all for using alternative energy for supplements," Sinclair said. "Solar, wind are not as damaging as coal. We should never make regulations at the state level more stringent than the federal government is requiring."
State budget concerns
"We need smaller, smarter government," Schrad said. "But we need time to figure it out."
"We need to identify where the waste is," Sinclair said. "The budget needs to be looked at line by line at the state level. We must return to fiscal sanity."
"It's much worse than $6 billion, more like $12 billion," Heartsill said. "Our spending should be down around $8-9 billion. There is no acceptability and no incentive for being frugal."
"Iowa is not broke," Suhr said. "We have cut back over the last few years. Cuts have continues and are punishing some departments. We're doing ok there in Iowa. The State can't save anymore, we have $1 billion in the bank."
Government's role in economic development
"There needs to be some latitude," Sinclair said. "This can be in done in different many ways that benefit businesses. Such as property taxation and abatement at the local level. There are tools out there than can help the business climate."
"Government shouldn't be choosing winners and losers," Schrad said. "Iowa needs to work with businesses who have roots here. We need to provide commercial tax breaks at the local level and help make more skilled employees available for businesses."
"We need to be more business-friendly," Heartsill said. "The State's role should be in tax reform."
"We've had this problem before," Suhr said. "We need to hope those who can't help themselves. There could of been an effort made to keep jobs that were here in Iowa that aren't anymore. I don't wan the tax breaks to fall on the back of the local businesses."
Keeping people in the small, rural communities
"We need to fund the schools," Suhr said. "The schools are critical, vital to those communities. Earned income credits would help."
"We need to look at property taxes," Heartsill said. "There is a disincentive to make improvements at a property. We need to look at ways to tax the purchase price and not the accessed value."
"Small school are being forced to consolidate," Sinclair said. "Don't force them to do this, let the communities decide. Property taxes can ben prohibitive and regulations from the state are killing small towns. Don't make people pay more when they choose to be there because it was cheaper in the first place."
"Property taxes help schools," Schrad said. "Cities and counties need that funding. There needs to be stable revenue for the communities and they need to find alternative revenue, which that idea has never been favorable."
In closing, Heartsill commented that the tough questions need to be asked in Des Moines.
"Are we doing things efficiently," he asked. "We need accountability and need to work for the tax payers. Government has an appetite for your money."
"We need to handle all the issues, not just the money," Suhr said. "Issues come up every day and we need to listen and try to help."
"I don't have faith in government to solve all the problems." Schrad said. "But I think we can do our best. We need to get serious about tackling government at the local and federal level."
"I am passionate about rural Iowa," Sinclair said in closing. "We need to return education in Iowa to the gold standard, where it once was. I want to make Iowa families strong. I won't forget where I came from or who I represent. I want to work hard for the State of Iowa."