Tom Steenberg is a Missoula resident and the Democratic candidate for House District 95. He is running against Karen Meyer, a Republican from Missoula. The following are his responses to a Missoulian questionnaire.
Should the Affordable Care Act – national health care reform – be repealed? And if so, what would replace it?
The ACA should not be repealed. While it may undoubtedly be improved, there is no good reason to repeal the ACA and many reasons for keeping it, including the following provisions: no lifetime health insurance limits; increased insurance coverage for young adults, who can stay on their parents’ insurance plan until age 26; no denial of insurance coverage based on pre-existing conditions; increased coverage for preventive health care measures.
If Republicans don’t win the presidency or Congress and the ACA is not repealed, should Montana continue to resist implementing it, even though it would be federal law?
Montana should implement the ACA. As stated above, there are numerous provisions within the ACA that will benefit Montanans.
Under the ACA, Montana has the option to expand Medicaid and cover at least another 50,000 people, with federal assistance. Would you support or not support expanding Medicaid in Montana? Why?
I would support expanding Medicaid in Montana. Providing health care coverage to low-income Montanans is good policy. Studies have shown that expanding Medicaid coverage results in better health outcomes for those insured. It also provides needed revenues/reimbursements for health care providers.
Furthermore, the initial costs of Medicaid expansion will be covered by the federal government, allowing Montana to budget for the future cost increase.
Should the state money spent on public schools be increased or not? What changes would you suggest in this funding?
Education is key to a prosperous economy, and the state should increase funding for public schools. Over the years, state funding has not kept pace with inflation and the burden to local property tax payers to fund schools has often increased. In the university system, student tuition and student debt load have both grown rapidly. We must keep the cost of higher education affordable for all Montanans.
The oil-and-gas boom in eastern Montana is putting pressure on services, schools and infrastructure in that area. Should the state be doing anything to assist these areas and encourage the boom?
We should ensure that all businesses – including the oil-and-gas companies – pay fair and equitable taxes. The overall tax burden should not be shifted to the property tax/income tax payers. The state should also continue to make loans available to counties that require additional revenues to develop necessary infrastructure.
Should Montana’s incentives for renewable energy be amended in any way? If so, how?
Montana should continue to offer incentives to develop and use renewable energy, as well as incentives to promote energy conservation.
Should Montana be encouraging coal production for export? How?
Montana should take a hard look at the costs vs. benefits of exporting coal. There are environmental, social and economic impacts that should be examined before we commit to exporting coal to China.
Is there anything Montana should be doing to encourage oil-and-gas development in the state?
We should ensure that oil-and-gas development does not come at the expense of our natural resource environment or cultural treasures.