What is your strategy to balance the state budget? What taxes, if any, would you be willing to increase? What services, if any, would you be willing to cut? Should social service costs move to local governments?
We are constitutionally required to balance the budget each legislative session. That is one great aspect of our Montana Constitution; perpetually forcing politicians to balance the taxpayer’s checkbook just like all Montana families. So my strategy to balance the budget; follow the constitution.
In 1992, the state paid 76 percent of the cost of public higher education in Montana. In 2018, the state is paying 38 percent. What portion of public higher education should the state fund, and why? Should it be closer to 38 percent or 76 percent? Please be specific.
From 2000 to 2019 state appropriations for higher education have risen 55.2 percent, doubling the spending for our universities. With the sixth-highest dropout rate in the country we have to ask ourselves what we are getting from our universities for all our spending? I am for education and investing in our next generation, but we have to be wise about how we invest.
In 2015 Montana State University (MSU) spent $9.5 million in discretionary non-resident undergraduate tuition waivers. … Asking Montana citizens to pay more for out-of-state student’s tuition waivers to use our university system is imprudent.
How do you plan to address the housing affordability crisis in Missoula and other urban areas in Montana where job growth is attracting more people but housing scarcity is driving up rents and home prices and wages are not keeping pace?
If you are purchasing something as large as a home or as small as a Jimmy John's sandwich, the math is the same. The cost of the product is made up of line item expenses. What does it cost the sandwich shop for the tomato, flour, etc. and what does it cost the contractor for the land, city permits, 2-by-4s etc.? Removing regulations so a piece of 2-by-4 lumber can end up in a more affordable Montana house and not a forest fire would be a great place to start for making housing more affordable.
What role should state government play in managing federal public lands, and how should those activities be paid for?
The question for all Montanans is who owns the tree that is in the Kootenai National Forest? When it comes to the question of management of our state, should it be Montanans that get to say what happens to the tree in Montana? Or should it be Washington, D.C., that gets to decide how to manage Montana? I believe it should be Montanans that manage Montana. As far as paying for it, that is the wrong question. It should be “What will we as a state do with the extra revenue?”
What do you regard as the most urgent problem facing Montana, and how do you propose dealing with it?
The most urgent problem facing Montana is our investment in the next generation. It is heartbreaking to dig into the stats of Montana’s suicide rate, broken families, educational dropout rate, depression, and the list goes on. State government should embrace an avenue that actually helps our young generation achieve the self-dignity of thriving through pursuing their own passions and ambitions. Politicians throwing other people’s money at a problem and then walking away thinking they did their good deed has proven to not be the solution. …We need to invest personal time and effort into getting to know our hurting neighbor.