The following list reflects my position on issues that will be before the legislature in the upcoming session. I will continue to add to the list and provide more detail as time permits. If I have not yet addressed an issue that concerns you, please feel free to contact me with your input.
Medicaid expansion has successfully cut costs and is providing much better health outcomes for over 93,000 Montanans. It has also added thousands of jobs to our economy and has allowed many critical access hospitals in rural areas to remain open which can mean the difference between life and death for rural residents who become sick or injured. The benefits are many and we must work to solidify and improve this program going forward.Essential criteria for healthcare:
- Coverage is affordable.
- Everyone can get coverage regardless of income.
- No penalty for pre-existing conditions.
- Those receiving subsidies who are able, are required to work.
It has become more and more evident that our tax structure here in Montana is in need of some serious updating. One obvious goal of tax policy should be to create a system that is fair for all. Looking at the data it is clear that the majority of the burden is placed upon the backs of middle and lower income Montanans. The system also fails to collect a fair share for the services used by the many visitors to our state. If we put the political games aside and look at the actual data, it is possible to implement a system that is fair and can bring relief to average Montana residents while providing the infrastructure and services we all need.
In Montana, the glaring untapped economic strength is tourism visits. Last year, we had 12.2 million visitors from around the world and except for fuel and some isolated resort taxes, we did nothing to capture any tax revenue.
If it meant you would pay less in taxes, would you support a state sales tax?
In 2017, tourists spent over $3.25 billion in Montana. I would be open to ways that we could tap into this potential revenue stream in order to lessen both our income and property tax burden. One idea that has merit would be to implement a sales tax and then provide a credit to residents that would offset the average amount spent on this tax. There are many smart and innovative ideas regarding our budget issues and we should be looking at all of them in order to put our state's finances back on a solid footing.
Maintaining healthy infrastructure is important to all Montanans and the large number of items that fall into this category might surprise you. There are the standard things everyone thinks of like roads, bridges and airports but the list also contains everything from sewage treatment plants to the computer networks that house your DMV information.
An interesting fact is that much of the capital spent on infrastructure makes its way back into our communities. One form this process takes is the salaries for the good paying jobs these projects generate. That money is then spent on rents, mortgages and goods and services at local businesses. Thus, funding should not only be considered as an expense but also as an investment since the money percolates back into all of our pockets in one way or another.
We will need to make infrastructure a priority because it isn't too difficult to imagine how our economy would suffer if we were to allow it to fall further into disrepair.
It is abundantly clear that we have a problem with gun violence in our country. While we haven't had a major event in Montana, the warning signs are present including threats against several schools and other institutions. It is imperative that we take a proactive posture on this issue and implement common sense policy in order to mitigate future catastrophes. It is also important to realize that this issue isn't limited to instances of mass shootings but also includes suicides and murders of which sadly, Montana has far too many.
The logical place to start is strong enforcement of current laws regarding firearms. Tackling the difficult questions of how to keep firearms out of the hands of individuals who exhibit strong indicators that they may be a danger to themselves or others should be a top priority. We should also be actively studying all of the related issues so that we can make informed decisions about the most effective policies to implement going forward.
Having a strong public education system is of vital importance especially as our understanding of the complexities of the world / universe improves. It is one of the major ways that we, as a society, can provide a foundation from which successive generations can exceed the accomplishments of their parents. It is a fundamental American value for all citizens to have the opportunity to achieve their full potential.