1. Should the state of Montana expand Medicaid to Montanans earning less than 138 percent of poverty, as allowed under the Affordable Care Act? Why or why not?
2. Should the state encourage or discourage the production of coal, oil and gas? How?
3. The state of Montana has had budget surpluses in recent years. Should this money be invested in public services, returned to taxpayers in some form, or both? Please be specific.
4. Do you support freezing tuition for in-state students attending state colleges and universities for two more years, as the 2013 Legislature did? Why or why not?
5. Montana schools are implementing new math and English standards and testing known as the Common Core standards. Do you support these? Why or why not?
Ed Lieser (Incumbent)
Political Experience: School Board Member, Potlatch, Idaho; Representative Montana House, HD 4, 2013-2014
Political Affiliation: Democrat
Place of Residence: Whitefish
1. The state should accept federal dollars to expand Medicaid. The existing Medicaid program should be expanded to include medical coverage for Montanans that earn less than 138 percent of the federal poverty level. This makes good economic sense and is the compassionate approach our government should take. It will reduce the potential for both young and old citizens from declaring bankruptcy due to medical illness. It will offer preventive care through medical examinations and early intervention. Over the course of time, reduced emergency room care will reduce the cost of insurance and health care.
2. We must discourage the production of coal, oil and gas in a thoughtful, measured and reasonable timeframe that minimizes the disruption to our economy. It is undoubtedly a daunting task. Coal, oil, and gas are integral parts of Montana’s natural resource-based revenue and the state depends heavily on that revenue. I recognize that fact, however we cannot continue to deny the impact that burning fossil fuels has on our environment. It is essential that Montana makes the transition to cleaner sources of energy production as soon as possible. In addition to reducing emissions from electricity generating facilities, we should expand carbon capture and renewable energy sources such as wind and solar. In the meantime, we also must make the adjustments that allow us to adapt to the warming planet by upgrading infrastructure, consume less, and reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
3. I think the state has important obligations that we have chosen not to fund and the “surplus” is a result of those unfulfilled obligations. The first priority for spending should be to provide an educational system that meets the needs of our communities. Next, teachers and state employees should be paid a competitive wage. The state of Montana should keep its promise to teachers and public employees by ensuring retirement systems are actuarially sound and the negotiated benefits are provided. Our state roads and bridges, water treatment systems, and air pollution are in need of improvement. Finally, we will be financially challenged to adapt to a changing climate.
4. The state should provide sufficient additional funding for the U-system to allow another two-year tuition freeze. While tuition has been frozen, the total cost of tuition and fees, books, and cost of living make a college education very difficult for a student and/or family supporting a student. Student debt has become almost a lifelong financial burden to the student. Furthermore, this debt has had an impact on the growth of the U.S. economy because college graduates cannot afford to buy a home due to the onerous college debt. Freezing tuition is just one step toward making a college education a reality for the upcoming workforce on which Montana and this country depends to be a world leader and competitor.
5. I support Montana’s adoption of the Common Core standards in English and math because they allow parents to know what the learning expectations are for their child at every grade level. Administrators, teachers, and school board members have told me they are amazed at the changes they have seen in their classrooms since they started implementing the standards. Our students are rising to meet the challenge of higher standards, and we shouldn’t go back on setting high standards for our kids. I want Montana students to continue to be among the best in the nation. As legislators, we do not set educational standards – that’s the role of the Montana Board of Public Education.
Occupation: Operates a landscaping business
Political experience: Four years serving on Whitefish City Council, two as Deputy Mayor
Political affiliation: Republican
Place of residence: Whitefish
1. No, Medicaid shouldn’t be expanded. All that accomplishes is making more people dependent on welfare. Making more people dependent on taxpayers instead of being self-sufficient is the exact opposite of what this country, and Montana, needs. It perpetuates and increases the problem. I suggest that we help people to afford their own health care by helping them to make a better wage. And we can accomplish that by reducing government interference and regulation of our personal lives and our businesses.
2. The state should encourage the responsible harvesting of our natural resources, including coal, oil, and gas. It should not give in to special interest groups that seek to sabotage responsible use of our natural resources in the name of environmentalism. Being responsible to the environment and to the benefits of our natural resources isn’t mutually exclusive. It can be done.
3. The budget surplus should be used to provide a prudent reserve and to fund existing obligations to public employees, including teachers. The remainder should be returned to the taxpayers. There’s no justification for spending it just because it’s there. That kind of mentality is why America has spent itself into oblivion. I’m for zero-based budgets, which would help keep irresponsible government spending down.
4. It certainly would be nice for tuition rates to remain flat, as opposed to rising. If this can be done without raising taxes, I’d be in favor. If it can’t be done without raising taxes, then some belt-tightening by the university system would be in order.
5. It seems that every few years the federal government tries to come up with a different way to teach. Like building a better mousetrap, the new methods are usually not an improvement. I believe that Common Core, though well-intended, has a far greater chance of indoctrinating children into political correctness than it does in improving how, or how much, children learn.
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