|Carroll Hubbard showed he could take the fight to his opponent in Murray on Thursday evening. The candidates appeared together at the Murray Women’s Club Candidate Forum, gave short opening speeches and answered four questions.
In his three minute opening statement, Winters expressed deep concern for the country. He said it is in the best interest of all to be in prayer for the next election.
Winters described his efforts to work in a bipartisan fashion. He is chairman of the Senate Education Committee and has worked closely with outgoing House Education Chairman Frank Rasche.
Winters countered Hubbard’s advertising that he is “not getting the job done” with a reminder that he brought in $2.8 million dollars in sewer, water and related projects.
In his opening statement, Hubbard agreed with the need for prayer, especially in light of the falling stock market. He said that Governor Beshear urged 175 supporters in Murray to give him a friend in the Senate. Hubbard repeated his charge that Republican Majority Leader David Williams opposes everything the Democratic Governor proposes.
Hubbard told the overwhelmingly Calloway County crowd that “we need to keep Murray State here, instead of moving it to Paducah.”
Question: Industries that provide secure employment with good benefits seem to be leaving Western Kentucky faster than they are coming in. What will you do to bring good jobs back?
Winters: It has to do with the availability of trained and qualified employees. The difficulty is getting students to enter the sciences. India graduated 600,000 engineers, all English speaking. The US graduated 56,000and not all of those had English as their primary language. Senate Bill 2, sponsored by Senator Winter, passed last session will encourage AP (advanced placement) classes.
Hubbard: Hickman and Carlisle Counties have no industries. We are in an area that is starving for new industry. It is extremely important to have a legislator who can work with the Governor. If the plant that closed in Trigg County had been in the Golden Triangle, government incentives would have bailed it out. Former Governor Fletcher neglected West Kentucky.
Question: What about an increase in the cigarette tax and expanded gaming proposed last session?
Hubbard: Cutting state waste is the way to go. A 70 cent tax increase is too much- possibly 25 cents a pack increase. On expanded gaming, he said as the son of a Baptist minister, he does not favor casino gambling. But Kentucky is losing tax revenue to adjoining states that have casinos. He is willing to listen to constituents on both issues
Winters: He does not favor putting it on the ballot. He said 60% of the General Assembly must recommend it to the state for it to go on the ballot. On the cigarette tax, he said there are times not to increase taxes and this is one of those times. There is a health argument that increased cigarette taxes decrease smoking, but there is a segment of the population that will suffer disproportionately with an increase in the tax.
Question: Do you support the purchase of land in Paducah for Murray State?
Winters: The Council on Higher Education made it a mandate to double the number of baccalaureate degrees. There are 14,000 potential students in Paducah who cannot make it to MSU to take classes. He is a graduate of Murray State and spent 23 years there as a dean. He reminded listeners that MSU has already built a building in Hopkinsville. He said he has no intention of doing anything to damage the resident population at Murray State.
Hubbard: There was a 6-5 vote on the Council for the mandate. Six members of the Council were appointed by former Governor Fletcher. One new member of MSU’s Board of Regents,Dr.Laxmaiah Manchikanti* (Pain Management Center) of Paducah appointed by Governor Fletcher has given thousands of dollars to Winters’ campaigns. The ultimate goal of Paducah has always been to have a four year college. Tax money is going to Paducah and many people oppose it. A $600 tuition increase is a burden on students.
Question: How can you be a more effective legislator than your opponent?
Hubbard: He will be more effective as a Democrat in the Senate because he can work with Governor Beshear. His major goal is to bring new jobs. If the plant in Trigg County had been in Central Kentucky, it would have been rescued by the administration. He is KEA endorsed “enthusiastically”.
Winters: Economic development is the best job we can do for the young people of Kentucky. He can work in a bipartisan manner – as he did with Rep. Rasche. Education is key to our future. He feels he is best equipped to deal with education.
Each candidate gave a brief closing statement.
Winters: He feels most of us affiliate with a political party because of a basic philosophy. Once past basic philosophy, “you know where I stand.” During the session, his “green slips” (message slips from callers to the Legislature) ran 900-100 against casino gaming. He will bring four years of strong success and proven leadership as a senator to the job.
Hubbard: He is not a Democrat bashing Republicans. He knew Tom DeLay (House Leader while he was in Congress) and they sat together at ballgames. His daughter and son in law are Republican. Hubbard said that four years ago, the GOP sent out mailers accusing Dennis Null(Winters’ opponent) of terrible things that weren’t true. Null didn’t answer them and he lost. He warned that his opponent and the Kentucky Republican Party will try to do the same thing to him. He vowed to respond "in kind".