Jonathan Arnold is a Republican from Phillipsburg running for Senate District 43. His challenger in June’s primary election is Paul Bean from Deer Lodge.
The following are his responses to a questionnaire from the Missoulian:
1.What role should local and state governments play in economic development?
Government has a responsibility to create an economic and social environment that is beneficial for all Montanans. It’s important that the state work with local governments to make this happen. Our towns and counties can do their part to educate our children and maintain favorable communities to live and do business in; but all is for naught if the state does not do its part. The simple fact of the matter is that Montana’s taxes (income, property, capital gains, business equipment, workers’ compensation, etc.) are not competitive with our neighboring states. The Legislature must continue to address this by bringing our tax structures into a competitive balance with our neighbors.
2.What legislative actions do you favor to improve Montana’s economy and create jobs here?
Cut taxes and develop our resources. The Legislature cannot pass laws that compel business to come here or do business within our state. We all know that this is not how it works. If we want a stronger economy we need a tax structure that encourages people to take risks. This is where new businesses come from. Moreover, we are perhaps the most resource-rich state in this country. The oil and gas resources in North Dakota have led to a rainy-day fund in that state with unlimited growth. Moreover, they have cut taxes six times in the last four years. This summer they will vote to eliminate property taxes. With a few changes to our tax and regulatory structures, we can do the same here.
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?
Save it. Having a little extra money in the bank is never a bad thing. Moreover, having extra funds make it much safer for the government to seek ways to make us more economically competitive. As soon as anyone suggests making cuts the first response is, “how are we going to pay for this?” If enacted, responsible tax cuts lead to increased revenues that allow the cuts to pay for themselves. No, this does not always occur overnight, but having money in reserve will allow for long-term solutions to Montana’s economic vitality. We are long overdue to discard the practice of short-term solutions to our budget issues.
4.What is your opinion of current DUI laws and legislation? Would you change anything? Be specific.
Again, this is not rocket science. You can pass any law you want but fear of punishment does not stop people from breaking laws. We have the death penalty in this country and yet people still commit crimes that carry the death penalty. This is a social issue. We need to change our culture. Montana stared down its methamphetamine epidemic not just by passing stricter laws, but buy educating our people about the consequences of bad decisions. The same can be done in regards to DUI. The state can assist in this process through public-private partnerships that increase social capital and awareness in relation to the consequences of DUI.
5. Do you think the Legislature needs to intervene in the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Department’s wildlife management activity? If so, what would you propose?
Not yet. Wolves have only been delisted since last May. Moreover, they have been on the endangered species list since 1974. As such, it seems feasible that it would take more than one year for FWP to get this right. The Legislature should expect improvement from FWP as it continues to transition from a policy of wolf protection to wolf management. Concordantly, the Legislature should continue to perform due diligence in its legislative oversight. However, the Legislature should allow those qualified personnel it empowers to oversee this situation the opportunity to do their job.
6. When the University of Montana seeks funding for its College of Technology expansion, will you support its request? Why or why not?
The Legislature does not spend its own money. It spends your money. As such, if the university wants state funds it must show how the expenditure of said funds will benefit everyone, not just its students and their parents. If their request is compelling, and the Legislature has the funds to do it, than so be it. However, no one has seen a proposed budget for the next biennium. As such it is premature to commit to this until we know that it is economically sound. As of this date, it seems to me a reasonable request deserving of serious consideration.