General Election Q & A: Montana State House District 8

Democrat Lynn Stanley vs. Republican Steve Lavin

By Tristan Scott

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?

Name: Lynn Stanley

Age: 66

Occupation: Retired from 40 years in the book publishing industry, at Oxford University Press USA

Political Experience: Campaign volunteer and officer with Flathead Democratic Party

Political Affiliation: Democrat

Place of Residence: Kalispell

1. Yes, we should definitely expand Medicaid to the 70,000 low-income working Montanans who have so far been left out of healthcare reform. Regardless of what people think of the Affordable Care Act, it is basically unfair to leave this portion of our population without a healthcare solution. For these folks to fall back on emergency rooms when they are in a health crisis does nothing to create a culture of preventive care, and passes costs on to the rest of us who have insurance. Medicaid expansion is a win-win for all of us in Montana.

2. I believe that fossil fuels may be part of our energy mix for many decades to come, but we must identify a strategy for reaching a sustainable mix when it comes to climate impacts. We have a 2005 law on the books that started this process. In the short term we should emphasize responsible development of these resources with regard to extraction methods and transportation. Since 75 percent of Montana’s coal is burned outside the state, I think we should partner with other states as we look to achieve a further 21 percent reduction in carbon emissions as mandated by the EPA.

3. We should first make sure we maintain a sustainable reserve fund. We should continue to stabilize our public employee and teacher pension systems in order to keep our promises to retired workers in those important sectors. We need to fund an additional two years of tuition freeze for in-state students at our state colleges and universities, and increase funding to other education programs such as special needs education and driver education. We should consider a long-term tax refund.

4. Yes, we should freeze tuition for another two years. We need to encourage young people to continue their education, including by making it more affordable. We should also explore ways to reduce student loan debt.

5. I believe the standards are intended to foster critical thinking skills and greater depth of understanding in subject areas, and should benefit students, parents and teachers when families move in or out of school districts, since educational programs will be moving at the same pace in various parts of the country. We will have to watch whether they work as well in elementary settings as in middle- and secondary school. I also have questions about the length of tests for elementary students, and the amount of time spent preparing for them in the classroom. But the world keeps changing and education needs to keep up. It seems to me that we have come up with new educational models every decade or two for that very reason. We should give this program a chance, see how it works, and then make changes where necessary.

Name: Steve Lavin (Incumbent)

Age: 46

Occupation: Captain, Montana Highway Patrol

Political Experience: Currently serving in my second term for HD8 (Kalispell)

Political Affiliation: Republican

Place of Residence: Kalispell

1. I voted against this expansion in the last session, and will vote against the same proposal again. It’s a matter of affordability; we simply cannot keep growing the debt that appears we already cannot pay. The future cost shift to Montana will be very expensive, and the money just doesn’t appear from nowhere. Instead of this Obamacare expansion, let’s help provide Montanans with good paying jobs so they can be self-supportive.

2. The state should encourage production of these resources. We can do this by removing excessive regulations, and helping out with the permitting process for development. This can be accomplished by passing legislation limiting lawsuits that are frivolous and are designed to delay the permits which ultimately cause the developers to go to a more friendly state. Also, the tax system should be fair among all of Montana’s natural resources.

3. “Surplus money” is money that is over-taxed to the citizens of Montana. I’m for tax relief that keeps the money with the taxpayer who can then invest the money back into the economy. I’m not against giving it back to people, but let’s be sure we only give it back to the people that actually paid it, not a free ride to people that didn’t pay in the first place.

4. Yes, it should be, but it’s important that this freeze is paid for. State colleges and universities can and should find a way to make this happen within the current budget for the welfare of Montana students. I’d like to encourage creativity from within the university system to help address this important issue.

5. Common Core standards are standards set by the federal government. I think we should resist these federalized standards and rely on our local school boards to set the standards that they believe are important for our children. Montanans are very good at figuring out what is best for our kids on our own.