1. Are infrastructure improvements a major concern for Montana and, if so, what would you do to help pass a comprehensive infrastructure package?
2. Montanans rely on extraction-based industries for jobs, even as demand grows for clean and renewable energy in the region. How would you help employees in the coal, oil and natural gas industries maintain their livelihood, or pursue training in other fields in Montana’s changing economic landscape?
3. Given that the Legislative Fiscal Division has projected an ending fund balance that is considerably less than what was anticipated, what would be your budgetary approach heading into the session?
4. Should the state of Montana push to take more control of some federal land management?
5. What do you think is the most pressing issue facing the 2017 Legislature, and how do you propose dealing with it?
Political Party: Democrat
Family: Widowed mother of four: Zachary, 17, Chloe, 15, Garrett, 13, and Sofia, 10
Occupation: Public Policy and Nonprofit Management
Education: B.A., Liberal Arts, University of Montana; MS, Public Policy & Nonprofit Management, The New School for Social Research, New York, NY
Political Experience: Candidate Montana Senate in 2008, candidate for Montana House of Representatives in 2012
1. Infrastructure improvements are a major concern for our state. I would work across party lines (as with all major issues) to pass a meaningful infrastructure package. Additionally, I would work to include creative measures that involve local communities in their own infrastructure development (hiring locally, local input in design, buying locally, etc.).
2. Business development and training for Montana citizens is one of my top priorities. I believe it’s critical to not hurt employees, or their families, in the move to clean, renewable energy. I would work to create new programs that inform and train Montana workers, new graduates, and current employees in cutting-edge careers in the renewable energy sector.
3. I would approach the Montana budget from an investment perspective. I believe we should not only invest in our citizens — especially families and new graduates — but we should also invest our state’s financial resources. The state of Alaska is an excellent example of how investing, as a state, benefits everyone. I am a proponent of establishing a Permanent Fund, much like the one in Alaska. Based on how well the state’s portfolio performs each year, every citizen living in the state would receive a dividend check. These funds could be spent in any way the individual and/or family decided.
4. Yes, I believe Montana should control Montana land. I also believe Montana should preserve and protect its beautiful natural environment. I am a strong proponent of public access for fishing, hunting, and recreation.
5. To remain a strong state, and to “keep Montana, Montana,” we must maintain a budgetary surplus, focus on environmental preservation, support local entrepreneurs, protect small business, adequately fund education, honor our veterans, and invest in Montana families.
Political Party: Republican
Family: Spouse: Joyce Brodehl; six grown children and a lot of grandkids!
Occupation: Owner of R & J Enterprises, a cabinet shop in Kalispell; retired Kalispell fire chief
Education: B.S. degree in Fire Service Management (Business)
Political Experience: Montana representative 2011 to present
1. Yes. Montana’s ever-increasing population has had a direct impact on our infrastructure. Governor Bullock vetoed the Legislature’s infrastructure bill (SB 145), which would have invested over $200 million in infrastructure projects over two years. I, as well 51 other Republicans and two Democrats, supported SB 145. We will again bring a critical infrastructure bill back before the Legislature, and I expect to support this legislation.
2. Montana has tremendous natural resources that we have done a superb job of extracting, processing, and shipping. Today, several groups, including the current federal administration, the states of Washington and Oregon, and some out-of-state, no-growth groups stand in the way of shipping our products to states and countries that desperately need our resources. Our governor continues to walk in lockstep with the Obama Administration and these other groups, taking jobs from Montanans whose families have earned a living in natural resources for generations. Our objective will be to work with the federal government, Washington and Oregon to free up our transportation system to get our products to market. While our governor has done nothing to free up our transportation system, we in the Legislature support moving our resources to market. While Montana’s government was not designed to fix the free market, it is certainly the government’s responsibility to prevent other groups from interfering with the livelihood of Montanans working in natural resources. The results of the November election will be critical for the lives of our folks responsible for managing and moving our natural resources.
3. The reduction in the extraction of natural resources, coupled with a $1.1 billion misplacement of funds by the executive branch, has done much to threaten our ending fund balance. Unlike the federal government, the state of Montana is constitutionally bound to have a balanced budget. The greatest responsibility of the House of Representatives is to develop a biennium budget that is balanced and meets our constitutionally mandated responsibilities. I chair Section D of the Appropriations committee, which has the authority to develop a budget for several large state agencies. I have already spoken with agency representatives, going over their plans and briefing them on budget reduction expectations. I expect we will see significant budget impacts this coming session.
4. Yes. I support gradually transferring most public property in the hands of the federal government to state management, along with the funding currently spent to manage these public lands. Management by a stagnated federal government has left dead forests and locked roads, and has blocked Montanans from using our lands. Transferring these lands would mean a vibrant state natural resource management program that aggressively manages our forests and our natural resources, while opening roads and freeing up our land uses for Montana families to enjoy.
5. While there are several issues ahead of us, the most pressing is reducing the role of the federal government in our lives and our government. I will support a Legislature that reduces or removes the federal role of the government in the lives of Montanans.
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