Fred Thomas is a Republican from Stevensville running for Senate District 45. His challenger in June’s primary election is Gary MacLaren from Victor.
The following are Thomas’s responses to a questionnaire from the Missoulian and the Ravalli Republic:
1.What role should local and state governments play in economic development?
State and local government needs to create and maintain a very competitive, consistent and predictable place to do business and employ Montanans! We need to be competitive tax wise, workers compensation and regulatory wise.
We need to be consistent and predictable in our regulatory application and judicial review. An unpredictable judicial environment in Montana is a jobs killer. This needs to change.
2.What legislative actions do you favor to improve Montana's economy and create jobs here?
We need to remove the over-regulation that stops us from taking advantage, in a environmentally sound way, of the natural resources here in Montana. Wood, timber, oil, natural gas, coal and wind are all assets that we have and can use to create great paying jobs, build great communities and use the excess revenue to lower vehicle and property taxes!
In addition, we need to change the attitude coming from some of our bureaucracy from being an impediment to securing permits and approvals to an attitude of we here to help you get through this process and get you on your way to employing Montanans!
3. Montana now has a projected general fund budget surplus of $427 million as of mid-2013. What, if anything, do you think the 2013 Legislature should do with this money?
Property and vehicle tax reductions come to mind first. Use surpluses to reduce tax burdens. Right there with tax reductions is considering using some of this surplus to help create a full address of the unfunded public retirement system in Montana. Currently this is estimated to be $3,500,000,000, yes billion. We need to bring all the parties together, put all cards on the table and come up with a solution that will eliminate this huge deficit and keep retirements intact! Using part of this surplus for this purpose may help get a solution agreed to and in place.
4.What is your opinion of current DUI laws and legislation? Would you change anything? Be specific.
In Montana our DUI laws need to be strict, meaningful and enforced! Specifically I think we need to consider treating a third DUI as a felony vs. fourth DUI as a felony. This would allow quicker address of a bad situation with a tougher approach.
We need to build in the treatment of the root issue with DUIs, alcohol, chemical dependency and abuse. Only with genuine life changing treatment can we really help fix some of these bad situations.
5. Do you think the Legislature needs to intervene in the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Departments wildlife management activity? If so, what would you propose?
We need a complete make over in this department. We need people from the field that know how to deal with farmers, ranchers and landowners to be running this very important department. We need a Governor that will completely change the complexion of the FWP commission from worrying about the wolves breeding season to one that is worried about significantly reducing the wolf population with a high level of sincerity and result!
6. When the University of Montana seeks funding for its College of Technology expansion, will you support its request? Why or why not?
Given all the demands for money, it is my intent to support this project! I support funding because in my observation, this campus is in need, and need of our commitment to providing more opportunity for hands on applicable education opportunities that can get Montanans into better paying job opportunities as quickly as possible.