Sam Berkowitz
Memphis

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October 31, 2002

Sam Berkowitz

1.Do you feel Missouri will have to increase taxes in order to improve the state's highway and transportation systems?

Transportation improvements over the last four years in the First District were completed without tax increases. These improvements include the resurfacing of U.S. 136 from Schuyler County through Clark County, and every bridge along that route from Lancaster to Wayland has either been replaced or repaired. U.S. 61 is currently in the process of expanding to four lanes from LaGrange to Canton, thanks to a coalition of many people including students from S.M.A.R.T. U.S. 36 also is in the process of expanding to four lanes from Hannibal to the U.S. 24/36 junction.

Any tax increase for transportation should be decided by a vote of the people. There are innovative methods currently in existence in Missouri to help with improvements to our roads and bridges. The people of Kirksville voted on a sales tax increase proposition in April, which helped with the construction of expanding U.S. 63 to four lanes from Macon to Kirksville. The legislation that paved the way for the U.S. 63 project was a bi-partisan effort, which I co-sponsored. The voters at the Lake of the Ozarks and Kansas City approved temporary toll bridges to help construct bridges in those areas, with the toll being removed upon completion of the bridges.

Our current senator voted to kill last year's transportation bill that included bi-partisan accountability measures, without even a debate. There is still much work to be done in the arena of transportation. We need to make sure that Northeast Missouri gets its fair share.

2. Agriculture is the life force of our community. What types of legislation do you support to help local farmers?

Large corporate farms have threatened the very existence of family farms. My commitment to Missouri farmers is demonstrated by my past actions. I am pleased to have supported one of the most sweeping pieces of legislation to help Missouri farmers; House Bill 888. This bill created incentives to promote value-added agriculture in Missouri and has become a model for other states to follow. A direct result of this legislation was the creation and implementation of the Macon Ethanol Plant; a success story that speaks for itself. Again, it was a coalition of effort from local corn producers to legislative leaders such as Sam Leake and Gary Wiggins, former House Ag. Chairs. As current House Ag. Chair, we passed a bi-partisan Omnibus Ag bill that both improved the ethanol incentive fund and created a similar fund for bio-diesel producers, which will create additional plants in Northeast Missouri.

In the future I plan to continue my commitment to Missouri farmers by ensuring that family farms will continue to exist. Consortiums and cooperatives owned and operated by Missouri producers might be a viable answer to large corporate farms. To create a win-win situation, I would like to see Missouri producers used more in corporate production by using Missouri products in their facilities.

3. A tight budget forced plenty of debate over funding for education. Do you feel that maintaining full funding for the foundation formula is a top priority?

Education is a vital life force for the future of a community. As a lifelong teacher and coach, I know the importance of education in Northeast Missouri. It is absolutely essential that we make sure this area receives our fair share of funding. That is why we have fully funded the school foundation formula for over a decade. Plus, this year, over $130 million was added to the formula. Any new plans that would create funds solely for a 'per-pupil' basis could potentially move tight funds to the metropolitan areas because these areas have more students. Recruiting the very best to teach our children is a top priority and, in order to do this, we need to continue our current system and not take money away from the current foundation formula.

4. Concealed weapons have been a topic of debate for several years in our state. Do you favor legislation that would allow law-abiding citizens the right to carry concealed weapons?

I have consistently supported second amendment rights. As a result, I have an "A" rating from the NRA and have supported legislation allowing law-abiding citizens the right to carry concealed weapons.

5. Health care costs continue to skyrocket. What can we do on a state level to help our senior citizens and residents as a whole to be able to afford the necessary medication and treatment?

The cost of prescription drugs and health care in general has skyrocketed. We initiated a Senior Prescription Drug Plan last year during the special session that helps our most needy seniors. That program needs to be expanded to include even more seniors. The cost of drugs has increased drastically. "Designer" drugs and advertising have added to this problem. Although the cost has increased here, some of these drugs can keep a patient from costly procedures later if the drug is used for prevention. Monitoring that savings is important to determine how we as legislators proceed. The cost of health care plans has made them unaffordable to many of our residents, but the cost is even more disastrous to the uninsured. We passed the MC+ program to help uninsured children and we need to examine how to expand that plan to include affordable insurance for all. No one should have to choose between putting food on the table and the prescription drugs they need.

6. Why should I vote for you? Please name and explain one top platform issue that makes you the best candidate for the job.

For four years in the Missouri House of Representatives I have tried to get things done by finding common ground and building bridges. Some of our very best legislators have represented rural areas. Men such as Norman Merrell and Joe Maxwell in the Senate as well as Jim Sears and Karl DeMarce from Scotland County, built their reputations on their ability to build coalitions and work with all people. Following in their footsteps, I have had over 150 members of the legislature visit the district, many for the first time, to discuss important subjects such as transportation, education, economic development, health care and agriculture. The results have been astounding. The first of eight forums we held was in 1999 in Canton. The subject was transportation and many legislators present that day drove there on U.S. Hwy. 61. For some it was the first time. Many of them went on to vote for funding for U.S. 61, even those from urban areas. It takes a legislator who has the ability to find a way to draw votes from all across the State to get important things done in our area. I have proven my ability to do this time and time again. It takes a team effort to do anything worthwhile. I have a game plan for Northeast Missouri. I hope you will allow me to continue what I've started.


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