South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

Election 2016: Koenen looks to oust Haefner in 95th District

Marsha Haefner
Marsha Haefner

An Oakville Democrat is hoping to oust Rep. Marsha Haefner, R-Oakville, from the Missouri House seat she has held since 2010.

Glenn Koenen, who ran unsuccessfully for the 3rd District Congressional seat in 2012, is challenging Haefner for the 95th District seat in the Tuesday, Nov. 8, election. Two years ago, Haefner was unopposed.

• “To reduce, to the fullest extent possible, fraud, waste and abuse of the welfare system. All other needs of the state are funded after the state’s obligation to these programs are paid, leaving less for transportation, schools, public safety and other priorities citizens expect from their state government,” Haefner said.

• “Education funding. Investing in young people is an obligation and an opportunity to create a better tomorrow,” Koenen said.

Haefner, 65, 6411 Brookfield Court, 63129, is the owner of Haefner’s Farm & Greenhouses, doing business as For the Garden. She and her husband, Gregory, have three adult children.

Haefner said she is seeking re-election “to represent the values and priorities of Oakville citizens in Jefferson City.”

Koenen, 59, of Oakville, and his wife, Peggy, have one adult child. He is a retired executive director of Circle of Concern.

Koenen, who has not held elective office, said he is seeking election “to represent this area with common sense and build for the future.”

Haefner said, “I am, and always will be pro-life and have consistently supported legislation that protects the unborn. The Republican Party also supports my position on this important issue. I have never heard a colleague on the other side of the aisle speak in favor of anti-abortion legislation, even those who claim to be pro-life.”

Koenen said, “I do not favor abortion, but since it is the law of the land, it should be safe and available.”

Haefner said, “I do not favor the death penalty and realize this is a difficult position to defend. No one who has been convicted of a heinous crime should ever be released from prison, but just one execution of an innocent person would undo any potential good proponents of the death penalty claim.”

Koenen said, “I oppose the death penalty. It does not deter murder and the cost of pursuing executions is too high and causes problems.”

Haefner said, “Changes to the law regarding concealed carry were made in September with the override of Senate Bill 656. Opponents of this bill fear mayhem, which was the same reaction many had when permitted concealed-carry laws were voted on and passed in 2004. Others support this bill because they feel it gives them a greater sense of personal safety. I voted in favor of this bill and believe law-abiding citizens in Missouri understand owning, carrying and using a weapon comes with great responsibility.”

Koenen said, “Yes. Repeal the ‘just-buy-it’ Senate Bill 656 provisions. Bring back background checks and a permitting process.”

Haefner said, “Current Missouri laws regarding meetings and records have changed with the changing world of technology and access to information.

“Committee meetings and floor debate in the Legislature can now be heard and at times viewed via video in real time, and are now recorded and available to the public. Intentional violations of the law should result in serious consequences.”

Koenen said, “The current laws need to be vigorously enforced. Clear guidelines to protect abuse victims and kids need to be developed for police-generated video and records.”

Haefner said, “No.”

Koenen said, “I will support a process to let the city re-enter the county as a self-contained municipality — such as University City or Chesterfield. County taxpayers should not pay to fully fund city pensions or other heritage costs.”

Haefner said, “Yes. I have supported all ethics legislation.”

Koenen said, “Of course. Current election law encouraged big donors to invest millions so only their voices are heard. A limit of $1,000 per donor seems very fair.”

Haefner said, “When elected to any position, personally attending meetings should be a priority. There are often valid reasons for an elected official to not attend a meeting, but videoconferencing should not be a substitute for attendance on a regular basis. If you can’t make the meetings, let someone else represent voters.”

Koenen said, “FaceTime or video chatting should be reserved for rare, emergency situations. If elected, a public servant should show up for meetings.”

Koenen said, “More changes are needed to current law. Billions have been lost in ‘rob-your-neighbor’ grabs of low-paying retail jobs.”

Haefner said, “While tax-increment financing is a tool often used to attract new businesses and create jobs, I continue to be concerned about the impact current policies have on existing, taxpaying businesses. I serve on a Tax Policy Commission consisting of legislators, business owners and tax experts that is now looking into how TIF laws impact communities and will recommend changes that need to be made.”

Koenen said, “I support a repeal for small bonds, such as a couple of million for roof repairs. For major bonds — such as to build a new school building — a greater plurality is appropriate.”

Haefner said, “No.”

Koenen said, “Yes. The current formula must be fully funded. Then … a new, simpler formula more attuned to metro-area costs can be developed.”

Haefner said, “Changes were made during this last legislative session to make the formula more in line with our current economic reality. Many factors are considered when determining what the funding amount should be in this extremely complicated formula that was created during very different economic times in Missouri. The foundation formula is a mechanism to financially supplement district that lack funds. So the question becomes what is fair?

“As a representative of a school district that receives very little from the formula when compared to other districts, while paying high property taxes to support our schools locally, I question the fairness of the formula. The other side of the issue is how does the state provide resources to insure districts have enough money to offer a quality education. And, does money always solve problems when a district fails? There needs to be an honest look at why districts succeed, and why they fail. I am a believer that while more funding helps in some situations, issues such as leadership, poverty and other factors need to be part of the discussion.”

Koenen said, “A moderate increase in fuel taxes — perhaps 4 cents per gallon. A switch to plate renewals based on vehicle value — 1 percent of value every other year.”

Haefner said, “Before there is any effort to increase taxes or create toll roads in Missouri, the first step in resolving the state funding program is to make sure current resources are being used as efficiently as possible. Last session I offered legislation that was heard in committee that would change the current sales tax timely discount for retailers in the state. After researching how other states handle this issue, I found Missouri policy is one of the most robust in the country. Seventeen states offer no discount for businesses paying sales tax on time, while many other states have caps.

“Missouri law allows 2 percent to remain with the retailer adding up to $110 million of taxpayer dollars not being collected. The largest retailers in the state get to keep millions of our tax dollars. My bill, which was never voted on in committee to allow for a floor debate, proposed putting the newly collected tax money in a transportation fund controlled by the Legislature. It could be used to fund various transportation project including roads, bridges and river ports.”

Koenen said, “Yes. Taking for commercial, nongovernment use must be prohibited. When needed, a panel to determine proper compensation should be formed.”

Haefner said, “On Aug. 28, 2016, Missouri law regarding eminent domain changed that protects property owners from having to give up their property for economic development purposes. This was a much-needed law that I supported.”

Koenen said, “Expand Medicaid to give working people reliable access to medical care. A dedicated program to have more community-level clinics, including mental-health professionals, is needed.”

Haefner said, “Medicaid expansion has resulted in a financial crisis in many states that decided to participate in this federal program. As the Appropriations chair for Health, Mental Health and Social Services, I have spent countless hours reviewing our Medicaid system, trying to find solutions that offer reasonable controls over spending while being able to offer much needed assistance to the most vulnerable citizens of the state. Even without expansion, Medicaid spending in Missouri is increasing at a greater rate than year to year increases in general revenue. I have sponsored several bills that have contributed to efficiencies in the Medicaid system that are now law. My work on this issue will continue as a member of the newly appointed joint committee on Missouri HealthNet — Medicaid.”

Koenen said, “The fund is solvent and effective. There is no need to change something largely working as it should.”

Haefner said, “Members of this retirement system claim they have their finances under control and will be able to fund all liabilities. This is an exceptional benefit to our educators, but I am doubtful teachers entering the profession today will enjoy the same benefits of current retired teachers. My position on this issue is if they continue to resist the changes some legislators believe needs to be made, I would like to see a policy in place that protects taxpayers if this system runs short and cannot fund their liabilities.”

Koenen said, “Yes. Such recording can help ensure accurate minutes.”

Haefner said, “Yes. This would ensure these meetings were closed for lawful reasons.”

Koenen said, “Transfers were necessary due to problems in some districts. Preference should be given to improving the home districts — provided existing students are not abandoned.”

Haefner said, “Yes, changes are needed. Busing children miles away from their home districts should be a last resort for a quality education. I would like to see policies that allow more charter schools in provisional and failing district, as well as evaluating schools within a provisional or failing district on an individual basis. Often there are schools within these districts that are doing a good job educating their students. Allowing more students to attend these schools should be an alternative to transferring districts.”

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