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House District 99 candidate Q&A: Mark Thane

House District 99 candidate Q&A: Mark Thane

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1. When it comes to providing state-funded financial aid for college students, Montana ranks 49th in the nation. Do you think the state should contribute more toward higher education funding or should it be the responsibility of the student to fund their own college education?

Investment in workforce development is integral to our state economy. To earn a living wage in Montana almost certainly requires some form of post-secondary education. We must invest in apprenticeships, internships and certificate programs as well as the two and four-year units of the Montana University System. Enhanced state funding to forestall tuition increases coupled with targeted financial aid, grants and tuition tax credits are necessary to make post-secondary education more affordable.

2. Do you think the state of Montana should increase state funding for affordable housing? Why or why not?

The median home price in Missoula exceeds $300,000 while the median household income is approximately $46,550. A 2018 housing report released by the Missoula Organization of Realtors finds that 47% of Missoula renters spend more than 30% of their income on housing and are considered “cost burdened”. The vacancy rates for Missoula rental properties is approximately three percent. The lack of affordable housing is a significant barrier to Missoula’s workforce. Support for development within opportunity zones and inclusionary zoning policies are necessary to increase housing stock. Creative public/private partnerships to address housing affordability are critical.

3. What, in your view, is the largest issue with management of Montana’s public lands? What should be done about it?

Montana has a proud tradition of hunting, fishing and outdoor recreation. According to the Montana Office of Outdoor Recreation, Montana’s outdoor recreation economy directly supports more than 71,000 jobs and generates over $7.1 billion in annual spending. Even more significant is the impact of outdoor recreation on our health and quality of life; more than 80% of Montanans participate in some form of outdoor recreation. Maintaining open access to our public lands and waterways as well as preventing environmental degradation of these public resources is imperative.

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