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Mast, Freeman discuss issues on KVOE Candidate Forum

Peggy Mast and Jeff Freeman brought similar yet different approaches to the KVOE Candidate Forum table for a debate on the issues Thursday.

Mast, the incumbent representing the House 76th District, and Freeman, the only Republican challenger, both say direction on public education funding is largely on hold until the Kansas Supreme Court rules on the Gannon v. Kansas adequacy case. Mast says direction is still being considered while the Supreme Court decides how to proceed.

Mast, who was criticized sharply for voting with the majority on the fiscal 2013 budget that led to hefty cuts at Emporia State University, said she thought it best to vote for the budget and then make fixes later because the overall budget was so late in the process when it was finally decided.

Freeman says the Supreme Court is out of control and lawmakers need to change how justices are picked. He says that will eliminate a lot of the problem, but he also says other things need to be fixed.

On the economy, Mast says the state is doing better than it had been, although April and May revenues were some $330 million short of expectations. She says the state's goal of eliminating income taxes is good for the state.

Freeman says the state's overall budget direction is correct, but he has concerns that haven't been resolved.

Freeman said Mast voted against a final bill expanding Rural Opportunity Zones, but online sources including www.billtrack50.com and www.OpenStates.org have Mast voting in favor.

Mast and Freeman are taking different approaches to energy development. Mast is concerned about the use of water involved in fracking, as well as the possibility of removing that water from future use, although she believes fracking is needed to make Kansas and America more energy independent. She also believes wind energy needs to be market-driven while recognizing wind needs other energy supplements to provide consistent power. Freeman, meanwhile, says he believes in an "all-of-the-above" development policy including fracking, wind and water.

The primary election is Tuesday, and advance voting ends at noon Monday. KVOE will have complete election coverage Tuesday night, including developing and final results and candidate reactions.

You can see the 76th District Candidate Forum in its entirety on KVOE-TV and also find the audio on the KVOE.com Audio Vault.

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