JEFFERSON CITY - Write-in lieutenant governor candidate Charles R. Jackson told KOMU 8 News his background as a state trooper and a member of former Governor Bob Holden's cabinet set him apart from the other candidates for the same office.
The lieutenant governor is the state's second-highest ranking executive. According to the lieutenant governor's website, the person who holds this office sits on several boards and commissions, many dealing with economic issues. These groups, including the Board of Fund Commissioners, the Missouri Development Finance Board and the Missouri Housing Development Commission, control a number of tax credits. As part of reporters' interviews with the candidates, KOMU 8 News asked candidates their thoughts about the 2010 Missouri Tax Credit Review Commission Report, which contained several recommendations related to these credits. The lieutenant governor also serves as the chief advocate for the elderly and veterans. Finally, the lieutenant governor presides over the senate, votes to break ties in that chamber and most importantly of all, steps in as governor if the governor is unable to carry out his or her duties.
KOMU: So for starters, as lieutenant governor, you would sit on a number of boards and commissions that are responsible for a number of tax credits. What is your overall opinion of the 2010 Tax Credit Review Commission Report?
JACKSON: I haven't seen that, so I'm not really familiar with it.
JACKSON: What were their recommendations that..I know that there was some talk about them reducing.
KOMU: There are a couple tax credits I wanted to talk about. One of them is the, let me double check this. One of the recommendations was to lower the jobs threshold for the BUILD Program tax credit. What is your opinion on that?
JACKSON: Lower the jobs threshold?
KOMU: To qualify for the BUILD Program tax credit.
JACKSON: Okay. I'm not, like I say, I've not really kept up with those things. I've been out running and trying to put this together. I really haven't informed myself on those. Cause I know when I get there, I'll have time to do that, once I get there. And again, the lieutenant governor really doesn't have legislative power. I know he sits on the committees, he has the input in it. I know the importance of tax credits to a lot of these small agencies. I would take a look at that and see what is being proposed as well as what's available as far as funds available, as well. We did several tax credit, monitored several tax credits when I was in DPS, especially issues with women, domestic violence, homes and so forth. And so that's where my familiarity's at. I know that they were reviewing it, and there were people that wanted to cut the tax credits, and I know I sit on a board at the University of Missouri School of Social Work, and some of the agencies that I've represented on that have received, they were discussing the problems it would cause for them to lose tax credits. So they couldn't receive the donations and so forth that really kept them going.
KOMU: Another credit recommendation they had was to reduce the value of the Missouri Development Finance Board Infrastructure credit from 50 percent to 35 percent.
JACKSON: Once again, you're trying to stimulate the economy during a tough time. And I recognize that we're also dealing with a reduction in funds, but a person trying to start a business needs as much help as possible. And I think that, keeping that at the 50 percent would be, during this time would be more feasible. At a later time, if things get better and funds become a little bit more available, then, it's hard to get loans in today's economy, then to look at reducing it at that time. And then just take an overall look at our expenditures and see where we can maybe redirect some funds as well from some of the programs that's affected by, the programs that ask for the tax credit. And what I'm speaking of is, I know that some of the youth programs, the funding that Corrections gets, I think that we need to look at what is more viable, to keep someone incarcerated or to try and supply funding to a program that would prevent people from becoming incarcerated.
KOMU: What safeguards would you like to put in place to prevent another Mamtek?
JACKSON: That's part of the economic, I think that board needs to take a look at any proposal. I know that the Department of Economic Development is saying they took the responsibility of doing it, which I think they need a bigger board to take a look at it and make recommendations to them.
KOMU: Take a look at any future proposals on the scale of Mamtek?
JACKSON: Yeah. If you have a request, I think that should be part of that board, to review it. To make sure that it is viable, cause that's what the statute says, it is a viable economic proposal. And that it has a high probability of success. And I'm not sure if that was really done. And the other thing, I think that we need to focus on local companies, too, as much as we can. To support them and their growth and development.
KOMU: How will you fight financial exploitation of the elderly, either through MOSAFE or other means?
JACKSON: I know that there's been some new statutes put in place that people that have been given guardianship over seniors, that if they take advantage of them, they can be prosecuted. I know that some of the people that I have in the Missouri Association of Retired State Employees, that we were talking about the phone calls they get, and the requests for funds, and so forth. I just think that there needs to be something in place that would safeguard them as well as the communications. I think that we need to be more proactive in putting out information when we learn these scams and so forth. And to me, that's one of the big things, that there's not a lot of communications (sic) that's going on out of that office informing the citizens of what's available, and so people are suffering, needlessly to me. As I travel around, especially some of these rural areas, you have everything closed down. No stores anymore, and it's negatively affecting the seniors. It's difficult for them to get around. A lot of them don't drive anymore. And so again, you know, we need to be doing some things that are communicating, and encouraging people to work together to watch out for the seniors and make sure that they're not being taken advantage of.
KOMU: What changes would you make to MoRx, if any? That's the Medicare Part D program for the state.
JACKSON: Again, making sure that we try to, I think the donut hole has been one of the big concerns. You have to spend down so much. To really work with people, especially those people that have been retired for a while, and their income, because of insurance and so forth, they have less expendable insurance, so a lot of people are going without medication because of that. And so to make sure that we try and put something in place to assist them, to find funding to assist them. And I know that the federal law restricts you from working with the pharmaceutical companies, negotiating with them. And I really think we need to work on that, getting that removed, where the states can negotiate with them.
KOMU: What are your top priorities for helping veterans?
JACKSON: We have 1500 beds in the veterans homes around the state. We have a wait list of 1500 or more to get into those homes. We need to, there's a program that I started when I was DPS director, that I work with because the veterans home is under my department, where we were getting veterans to locate other veterans and to get their benefits. It helped economically and it helped the veterans to get off the streets and to get into a place, a residence. And then we were looking at trying to build more veterans homes, because the number of bed spaces is granted from the feds by the number of people that you have enrolled in the program. And so right now, we have that waiting list. I was just informed by a friend of mine whose father became sick, he was a veteran, tried to get into a home, could not get into a home, and he passed away before he was able to be accommodated. And so again, we need to work on that, to get those people out because we owe them that, to be able to accommodate those people. And the other thing that really bothered me about that was she was told that, had he been in the home, his funeral expenses would have been taken care of, since he was at a private, not there in one of the homes, that was the family's responsibility. So again, we need to look at providing the services to the vets, regardless of their location, especially when you can't offer services to them that you're using as a criteria. So again, work on increasing the number of veterans that are receiving benefits.
KOMU: This summer, Governor Nixon signed House Bill 1680 into law. That among other things increased on the job training, expanded financial aid to veterans. How would you help to ensure that House Bill 1680's provisions were implemented?
JACKSON: Again, education. Communication to make sure that information is going out across the state to service organizations like churches and organizations like that to make sure that the people who know that these services are available. And using veterans to contact veterans. But basically make sure that that information is getting out.
KOMU: Do you believe that the current number of domestic violence shelters and the resources available to them are sufficient?
JACKSON: No. If you look at, in 2005, there was a report submitted at the end of Governor Holden's term regarding the domestic violence shelters and the services needed. And I don't think it was ever acted upon. I chaired that, along with Mrs. Holden for, we worked on that for about a year and a half, two years, and we met with shelter directors and worked out a program or plan to provide better services for them. And so, I know, it goes beyond just giving them a place to stay, but providing the counseling support that they need in addition to just having a place to stay. On average, it takes a person that's in a domestic violence situation, on the average, seven times to leave before they actually leave and stay away from their partner, and get out of that situation. And a lot of (lost) don't fell they have those resources available. And so to be able to educate and to communicate to them that there is a support system out here. And I think that was a step in the right direction, the bill that he signed, but you do as much as you can.
KOMU: How will your previous experience in both the public and private sectors aid you if you were elected lieutenant governor?
JACKSON: I would like to establish some partnerships with businesses as well as the private citizens, to review what services we provide through the different committees I sit on, and try to provide, devise a plan to better provide services. To me, the best people to provide input on a situation are the ones that utilize the services. As a troop commander and as a division director in the Highway Patrol, that's what I did. Instead of having the administrators develop programs, I would bring in officers as well, and the partners that use the services that we were developing, to have input in it. So we have a holistic approach to resolution of the issues facing the program. So it would be the same thing, using people that you know.
KOMU: Last question: What can you bring to this office that nobody else has?
JACKSON: I think being a state employee for 30 years, working in the patrol for 26 ½ years. Every day, you put on that uniform, and went out that door. First of all, you don't know if you're returning home or not. Second thing was, that you didn't know what you were gonna be faced with during the day. If it was going to be something where, if somebody's life could be lost by some decision that you make or had to make, or, you know, you just never know. So I think that I have learned how to make decisions under critical situations. I think I'm relatively cool and calm under stressful situations. I try to evaluate the information that I have at hand, and make the best decision. Plus, I bring people together. That was one of my strong points in working with law enforcement was bringing agencies together. I helped develop the AMBER program for the state. We brought in the partners that we felt were critical in order to get the information out should someone, or something happen to a young person in this state. And so I think just having that experience of being able to do that, I think that I'm probably better prepared than most. Having sat on the governor's cabinet, I've been a member of the governor's cabinet, I see how legislation is developed, I see how the system works. And even though I have no legislative authority or power, even so, I know how to get things done. Because as a Highway Patrolman, there were things we weren't supposed to get involved in politics, but there were times you needed things done, so you learned how to work with people without being out front, in order to get those things accomplished. And I think that gives me insight and the strength to be able to do that in this position.