Missouri governor candidates make stops in Springfield on the same day
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) -
They will be meeting in November to decide who the next Governor of Missouri will be but on Friday they both converged on Springfield for different reasons.
Democrat Nicole Galloway, currently Missouri’s State Auditor, was treading into the heavily-Republican backyard of Bolivar-based Mike Parson when she arrived in Springfield as she made her case in front of a handful of socially-distanced supporters at the local Teamsters Union Hall.
”The most important thing the next Governor will do is to contain the spread of the virus and rebuild Missouri’s economy,” she said in her opening statement. “Governor Parson had his chance. He failed. It’s time for a change.”
Four hours later Parson appeared at Missouri State to talk about school re-openings with area college leaders in a private meeting but he took the time afterwards to address some of Galloway’s criticisms.
One of the biggest differences between the two is Parson is against mandating masks statewide, leaving that up to individual counties and towns.
Galloway favors a statewide mask requirement.
“First there needs to be an immediate realization that we’ll never get our economy back on track and rebound until we control the spread of the virus,” Galloway said. “So we do need a statewide mask order. We need more testing at the local level. Instead the Parson administration has pulled back on community testing.”
“Our testing is probably going through the roof right now,” Parson countered. “Six weeks ago we were probably doing about 5-6,000 tests a week. We’re now doing 94,000. We’ve upped our game on the testing. Testing is still critical and it is for these universities as they open back up. We’re prepared for that and I think that’s some of the things we’ve learned today.”
On the economic side, Galloway said more needs to be done to help the unemployed.
“The Parson administration has rolled back eligibility for unemployment benefits,” Galloway said. “We should not be doing that in the midst of this crisis.”
Governor Parson pointed to the latest available employment numbers.
“We’ve got 71,00 going back to work in June and we think the numbers are going to be similar to that in July so people are starting to come off the rolls,” he said. “That’s a good sign.”
When asked if she feels like she’s facing a major uphill battle as a Democrat in a Republican-leaning state, Galloway said she believes the recent passage of Medicaid expansion shows voters are ready for changes regardless of political viewpoints.
“Healthcare is going to be one of the most important ways we dig ourselves out of this crisis,” Galloway said. “Missourians had to do what politicians wouldn’t and expand Medicaid. I believe Governor Parson will undermine our vote in favor of Medicaid expansion. He campaigned against Medicaid expansion, moved it to the August ballot to try and defeat it. He tried to sabotage the effort by saying he would raise taxes and gut other programs if we voted for it.”
When the Governor was asked if raising taxes was still on the table?
“No I don’t think so,” he replied. “Right now revenues are up a little more than what we thought they might be and people are going back to work.”
Galloway said based on her experience as State Auditor, Medicaid expansion will end up as a positive for the state.
“I don’t think we’re going to have to raise taxes, I don’t think we’re going to have to gut programs as Governor Parson has claimed,” she said. “Two billion dollars per year will be invested in our state’s health care economy with 16,000 jobs created within the first five years. This is the greatest economic development opportunity our state has ever had.”
Governor Parson is more concerned with the short-term effect on the state’s budget, which by law must be balanced.
“That’s one of the reasons we put it on the August ballot so we’d have time to prepare for that,” he said. “We’re just gonna have to figure out a way to do it. The reality of it is it’s going to be probably a $200 million hit on the budget and we’ll just have to prepare for it.”
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