Q. What relevant experience do you bring to the office you seek?
As a Chippewa Valley business owner the past 44 years and my decades of community service involvement with numerous local not-for-profit agencies, I believe I have brought a unique and valuable perspective into my three terms as a Western Wisconsin State Representative. Currently I am serving as Chair of the Assembly Committee on Workforce Development and am the former Chair of the Veterans Committee. I serve as a member of the Assembly Committees on: Energy and Utilities; Universities; Aging and Long-term Care; Veterans; Insurance. In addition, I serve on the Governor's Council on Workforce Investment, the Taskforce on Youth Workforce Readiness and served on the Taskforce on Rural Schools. Also, I am serving as a member of the National Conference of State Governments Midwest Subcommittee on Energy and the Committee on U.S.-Canada Relations.
Q. The American Society of Civil Engineers says Wisconsin motorists spend $2.0-billion per year in costs from driving on roads in need of repairs. What are the ways you would help find funding for the rebuilding of this state?
State Transportation funding has been in a rebuilding phase since previous administrations' raids on highway funds to pay for other State programs. Thanks to the Constitutional Amendment we passed with overwhelming support from Wisconsin voters, the funds are now segregated and protected from mismanagement. I have advocated for more funding for local roads along with less borrowing to pay for our transportation infrastructure. We are awaiting a Legislative Audit of the Transportation Department which should give us solid data upon which we can base intelligent options for funding our highways and roads. This will be a top priority of this budget cycle that I will work diligently with my Colleagues on both sides of the aisle to find sustainable and reasonable fiscal solutions to our transportation system challenges.
Q. State aid to local school districts has been reduced, or remained flat for the last few years. Leaders of local school districts say that has resulted in stagnant teacher pay and reductions in educational programs that students need and want. Some worry that we are losing our best and brightest teachers to neighboring states. So many local school districts are now going to voters, asking them to pass referendums that would allow these schools to raise local property taxes to make up the difference. In your opinion, is this the best and most fair way to fund these projects? If so, what is the role of the state to provide further assistance.? If not, what, specifically, would you do to provide more state aid to local schools and where would that money come from?
K-12 Education remains the top spending priority in our State budget with over one-third of all General Purpose Funds going to local school aids. This is a solid investment in our future and I will continue my work to advocate strongly for even more equity in the obtuse and complex equalization aid funding formula so that the schools of my rural 93rd District receive as much State aid as possible. We will carefully examine spending in all State Departments to continue eliminating waste, fraud, and abuse of program funds while we maintain responsible and balanced levels of taxation and spending. Thanks to the work of outstanding instructors, administration, support staff, and involved parental and community support, our schools in Western Wisconsin remain strong, successful, and vibrant centers of learning for our young people. Our graduation rates and student SAT test scores remain among the highest in the United States. By working together with the education professionals of my District, I remain committed to doing all I can to ensure their continued success.
Q. What makes you the best candidate to represent your district?
The good people of the 93rd Assembly District have granted me the incredible honor and privilege of serving them these past six years. They have my word that I will continue to work hard representing them in Madison during this upcoming term and for as long as they support my efforts and believe I am continuing to get the job done on their behalf.
Q. What do you think should be the top priorities for the state and your area over the next decade? If elected to office, how would you advance those priorities?
My policy priorities and advocacy efforts will remain much the same as when first elected to this office in 2010:
* Provide excellent educational and employment opportunities for our citizens
* Create a more common sense and balanced taxation, bureaucratic, and regulatory environment which encourages entrepreneurs, farmers, manufacturers, and other business owners to build and invest in our State
* Provide excellent services to our Veterans
* Provide quality health care to the poorest of our poor citizens
* Eliminate waste, fraud, and abuse of State funds and resources
* Protect our beautiful natural resources while increasing opportunities for tourism and recreation
* Maintain our strong infrastructure systems and law enforcement agencies to help ensure the safety and welfare of our citizens
* Help leverage private and public resources into expansion of Broadband Internet access for rural areas of our State
* Continue working with law enforcement and our Attorney General's office to address the Western Wisconsin epidemic of heroin, opioid, and methamphetamine substance abuse
* Continue working with our Job Centers and Department of Workforce Development to ensure that we connect those who want to work in family-supporting jobs with employers and/or that they have the opportunities to receive the training they need to obtain those jobs.