1. Do you support restructuring Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks to provide more attention/revenue to non-hunting wildlife and recreation?
If the question implies “Do I want to use hunting/fishing licensing revenues, and Pittman/Robertson dollars (also derived from hunting-related sales) to finance non-hunting activities”? No. If you want to know if I believe non-hunting and other types of recreation activities are important? Yes. However, those activities can and should be funded by those who participate in them. It is not government’s job to finance all things, for all people, at all times. Government should only engage in activities that are enumerated and required by our Constitutions.
2. How do you plan to serve in the Legislature during a pandemic? Will you wear a mask while in the Capitol? Do you think the session should be held in-person, remotely or some mix of the two?
In person, without requiring masks. If a person wants to wear a mask, they should. There are times when voting in person is mandatory, or you cannot vote. If we must attend certain sessions for some votes, why not at all times? How is it that people can shop at Costco and Walmart, or protest/engage in violent anarchy, yet we can’t expect them to serve in person in Helena? With a mortality rate, across all age groups, of 0.64%, why can’t we hold a regular session? There’s absolutely no reason to not have a customary, in-person, session.
3. Climate change caused by human emission of fossil fuels has affected Montana, including an increase in average annual temperature and shifts in growing seasons for farmers. Should Montana offer subsides for clean energy creation? Do you support or oppose ending tax breaks and subsidies for coal, oil and gas production?
I humbly reject the premise of this question. Do I believe humanity has an impact on the environment? Absolutely. Do I believe human beings are the major cause of “climate change”? Absolutely not. Government subsidies allow politicians to pick winners and losers, and curry personal favor. That’s a recipe for “quid pro quo” practices, and I oppose it. Unless an industry has a vital state or national security implication, subsidies are generally a bad idea. Since “green energy” sources are also subsidized, I would oppose subsidies for them as well.
4. The University of Montana has seen a 40% enrollment drop since 2010, and now is struck with the effects of the pandemic. What, if anything, should be done to help the university?
Two items I have discussed with President Bodnar are base budget stabilization and LRBP (Long Range Building Programs). Base costs for necessary infrastructure, grounds and core UM functions must be clearly identified and prioritized. As student populations (hopefully) rebound, economies of scale will improve. Long Range Building Programs must be also addressed. UM’s plant age is 20% higher that peer institutions and needs attention. The balancing act must address physical needs (labs) while understanding growth of online learning. Again, funding must be prioritized due to the scarcity of tax revenues projected in coming years due to Gov. Bullock’s senseless economic shutdown in Montana.
5. What do you see as the No. 1 issue facing your constituents and how will you address it?
Actually, there’s one long-term and an immediate issue. Long-term, the crushing impact of escalating property taxes is decimating native Montana populations. People coming to Missoula, and elsewhere in Montana, with large bank accounts from states with higher property taxes, may find Montana property taxes to be reasonable. With Montana’s per capita income among the lowest in America, Montanans cannot afford property tax increases we’re seeing every two years. Short term, the accelerated taking of individual freedoms we’re currently seeing threatens to destroy the United States, and Montana, that our ancestors fought and died for. We can’t afford to let this happen.
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