Freedom and our Bill of Rights
Though slowly being eroded, freedom is the foundation to our society. Freedom will always provide us with more choices and opportunities. The freedom we enjoy today is sourced out of and protected by the Constitutional Republic our nation was founded upon. I have taken seriously my oath of office and upheld our Bill of Rights and the Constitutional form of government, which provides for all of us, equal opportunity to achieve great prosperity.
Debt is a burden that stifles our economy. Debt also serves to limit our freedom and prosperity both as individuals and as a State. When we run into budget shortfalls unfortunately the quick fix is to raise taxes to which I am opposed. Between the 2013 and 2015 sessions the size of State Government expenditures rose by 20%!! In 2016 this over spending caught up with Montana, and added to the fiscal shortfall of 2017. A principle of fiscal government, if you excessively grow government in a few areas, down the road, as revenue declines, all programs and departments end up suffering!
Many are not aware that Montana is nearly 45% dependent on the Federal Government to supply its fiscal needs. Therefore, we are currently relying on a Federal Government that is multi-trillions in debt to foreign nations. I believe it is imperative that we work to keep Montana fiscally sound and less dependent on the federal government. A fiscally stronger Montana will be able to better weather the budget shortfalls we will undoubtedly experience in the future. I have worked toward this goal, providing for an even stronger Montana.
Lowering Tax Burdens
I support lower taxes for a stronger economy. Montana on median household income is nearly dead last. Based on our ability to pay, we are actually considered a higher than average tax state. In the 2017 session, to answer a $150 million shortfall, well over $260 million in tax increase proposals were leveled against the people of Montana with very little effort to reduce inefficient spending. I do not feel the tax paying public should be responsible for irresponsible fiscal management by our State government.
Many Montanan’s especially senior citizens are on fixed incomes, yet costs of living are rising. The reason why the legislature always must be careful with tax increases is because many Montanan’s household budgets may not be able to afford these extra costs. The ever rising property taxes in Montana is a prime example. Through bonds and levies and biannual property tax assessments, a small amount here and there adds up to a whole lot. The increasing cost of property taxes is an issue we must address.
Healthcare is one of the most complex issues the legislature has to deal with. Unfortunately many of the healthcare/health insurance issues need to be fixed on a national level. However the state can work within those confines of that federal umbrella and work toward solutions that will make healthcare more affordable for Montanan’s. During the 2017 session I supported multiple bills designed to drive down these health care costs and/or address healthcare issues ( such as SB96, HB123, & SB340) . They were not bills that just throw more tax payer money at high costs, but bills that work to lower the costs so all can benefit. I will continue to support legislation that makes our healthcare more affordable!
Business and Entrepreneurship
I believe in providing an atmosphere and tax structure that allows businesses to thrive thereby creating, not just more jobs, but higher paying jobs and a strong economy. This means to lower taxes for our small businesses to reasonable amounts, and less burdensome regulations.
I believe in the risk taking entrepreneurs that create the jobs for our economy. I feel it is owed to these risk takers to guarantee that Montana will remain and even become MORE business friendly.
Article X, Section 1(1) Montana Constitution, states: “It is the goal of the people to establish a system of education which will develop the full education potential of each person. Equality of educational opportunity is guaranteed to each person of the state.”
I take this statement seriously. Montana has a Constitutional duty to provide students and their parents with opportunities that allow for the highest quality education possible. Greater opportunity will equal higher quality education.
Having received a good public education in Philipsburg Montana and having moved on to college at Montana State University, I understand the need for students to be adequately prepared for post-secondary education. I also understand many students have specific needs, needs and learning styles that are not being met in their current educational venues. The fewer the educational options available to a parent, the less likely they will be able to solve the educational needs of their child. We know each individual child will perform the best in the environment that he or she is most comfortable in. Whether public, home, or private, individual schools should employ the highest standards with teaching that will focus on individual student needs, rather than a “one size fits all” approach.
Therefore, I believe in supporting legislation that will increase educational standards, provide multiple educational opportunities, give greater voice to local school boards and parents, adequate funding for public education, and protect students from a “one size fits all approach”.
Land Access and Montana’s Outdoor Heritage
As a “Montana Boy” and an avid sportsman I am a strong advocate in protecting our outdoor heritage.
In my first session I went to work right away looking to solve the issue of “land locked” public land here in Montana. I sponsored and carried the “Unlocking Public Lands Program” where landowners (by their own choice) are incentivized to allow access through private property to these isolated parcels of public land. This legislation flew through both the Senate, House, and Governor with over 90% support and became law.
Additionally, I sponsored and carried legislation designed to improve recreational opportunities on our State managed public lands. This legislation also flew through the Legislature and Executive with incredible support and was signed into law!
With my background in conservation and extensive experience (from a child) as a hunter and fisherman, I was placed as Vice-Chair of the Senate Fish and Game Committee. Additionally, I was approached and became Co-Chair and founding member of the Montana Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus. As I continue to serve I will support our right to fish, hunt and recreate on public land and I will work towards smart, sensible, management of our wildlife populations and fishing opportunities. Protecting Montana’s natural treasures, such as its pristine waters and clean air, will be of upmost importance to me.