Kathy Bernier - State Assembly Dist. 68 - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Kathy Bernier - State Assembly Dist. 68

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Q. What relevant experience do you bring toces the office you seek?

I have many years of experience in local, county and state government. Having served as a village trustee, county clerk and state representative, I understand the challenges public officials at all levels of government face setting financial priorities while trying to meet the expectations of their citizens.

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?

There are numerous revenue sources that could be considered and I’m open to this discussion. I think there is value in first waiting for the results of the Department of Transportation audit. However, my biggest concern is that we need to consider local roads and not just state highways.

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?

Funding K-12 education remains one of the most important and expensive parts of the state budget. In fact, one third of the state’s general purpose revenue goes toward public education. We’ve seen some challenging budgets over the past few years, which has turned into a situation where our small schools are pitted against larger districts. Since revenue limits were imposed many years ago, low spending schools have been penalized. I’m looking at possible solutions to hold revenue limits for certain schools to allow others to catch up.

Q. What makes you the best candidate to represent your district?

This job entails more than just drafting and voting on legislation. It’s about meeting with constituents and advocating for them and I do this regularly throughout the year. I work very hard to advocate for my district and the Chippewa Valley while in Madison. I think the Confluence Art Center is a good example of that. During the last budget, I worked with the Joint Finance Committee to secure $15 million in GPR-supported bonding for the Confluence Center.

As your state representative, my first job is to represent the constituents of the 68th District. If that means standing up to members of my own party, or even the governor, I don’t shy away from the task. Since I first ran for the Assembly, my priority has been what is best for our area. It has been my honor to represent you. I know and understand this district, from finance to farming, and the citizens of the 68th know they can always count on me.

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?

One of our greatest challenges is the worker shortages that our employers are experiencing. We cannot grow as a community or state if our employers don’t have people they can hire. We must continue the training and skills development efforts of our young people.

Our aging population is another challenge and therefore we need to make sure our long-term care opportunities are viable and can be sustained for many years to come. The legislature and DHS need to continue this work. I will request to continue serving on the Aging and Long-Term Care Committee so the needs of this district’s aging population are represented.

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