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Mike Cuffe

What role should local and state governments play in economic development?

Create a friendly business infrastructure and tax code and minimize regulations and fees. I am proud of many improvements we made in the 62nd Legislature. I was part of the Appropriations Committee that did the heavy lifting to reduce general fund expenditures by 6.3 percent. We reduced business equipment tax by 30 percent and workman’s Comp rate by 20 percent. I car-ried House Bill 363, a wolf management bill which divides wolf license fees between collaring wolves in livestock conflict areas and exterminating killer wolves. That bill was designed to help those in the businesses of raising beef and producing wool and mutton. We passed other bills to improve the businesses which develop energy and natural resources.

What legislative actions do you favor to improve Montana’s economy and create jobs here?

Hold the line or reduce taxes and minimize regulations. We made a good start in 2011 but too many good bills were vetoed by our governor.

Montana now has a projected general fund surplus of $427 million as of 2013. What, if anything, do you think the 2013 Legislature should do with this money?

Initial considerations must be to return it to the taxpayers, reduce future tax needs, and address the unfunded problems in pension plans.

What is your opinion of current DUI laws and legislation? Would you change any-thing? Be specific.

Numerous DUI bills were passed last session. It is time to let the law work. Enforce the laws we have, and ask the courts to carry out their responsibility.

Do you think the Legislature needs to intervene in the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks’ wildlife management activity? If so, what would you propose?

Too much land is leaving private hands, and too many decisions are being made autocratically without including the working man. The main issue needing more work is in the world of wolf management. I carried a bill on the floor of the House of Representatives which had been sub-mitted by Sen. Chas Vincent. That bill would have allowed “shoot on sight” on private property, and it held the federal government libel for damages resulting from introduction of the wolf.

When the University of Montana seeks funding for its College of Technology expansion, will you support its request? Why or why not?

I successfully carried a bill to help reduce cost of higher education by allowing cooperative pur-chasing of expensive lab equipment such as high tech microscopes. I carried this on behalf of university leaders, and it won’t change supplies purchased locally. I know improvements are needed in the College of Technology. Most likely I will support the funding, but I won’t promise until I see how it is packaged. If it is wrapped in a package with less desirable items at huge cost, I may not support it. Education is important, but university leaders need to be aware of the tax-payer in the rural areas which traditionally have relied on development of natural resources to pay the bills. UM President Royce Engstrom toured Lincoln County at my request to get a feel for the needs of communities with the highest unemployment rate in Montana. That is important.

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