Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Westfall, Mathews Intensify Debate over Hancock II

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Westfall, Mathews Intensify Debate over Hancock II

Article excerpt

The Hancock II state spending lid would "set government back into the last century," St. Louis County Executive George R. "Buzz" Westfall warned in a debate Sunday afternoon.

Westfall's Republican challenger, Jean Mathews, said that was typical of the "hysterical rhetoric" used by opponents to the amendment, which is on the Nov. 8 ballot.

She said it would mainly keep the Legislature from enacting tax increases without voter approval.

The clash was among several during the 50-minute debate, which was broadcast over radio station KMOX.

Echoing state officials, Westfall contended that the amendment would "cut deeply into our educational system" and hurt highway construction, law enforcement and prison expansion.

He was referring to another provision that would put now-exempt state revenue under the current Hancock limit for state spending. The limit ties growth of state spending to that of the economy. If exceeded, the state would have to cut services and refund money to taxpayers.

"It takes a little bit of guts to be against something that has such a populist tone to it," said Westfall, a Democrat.

Mathews, a former state representative, said there should be enough economic growth between now and mid-1995, when backers say the amendment would go into effect, to avoid major cuts.

"There will be a need to get the OK from the people before they pass these big taxes," she said.

The two also clashed on riverboat gambling, another November ballot issue. Westfall said although he is not "a big fan" of the idea, he supports it to help the county redevelop the old National Lead Co. plant in Lemay, an economically depressed area.

He said gambling also is a part of downtown St. Louis' ability to promote tourism and convention business. Unless there are downtown casinos, he added, "Missouri money is going to go to Illinois."

Mathews, an opponent, said out-of-state casino builders take more money out of Missouri in customers' gambling losses than they add in new development.

"We make a lot of people rich with casino gambling, but not many of them live here," she said.

Voters statewide will decide whether to allow slot machines at casinos - which are legal now in Illinois. …

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