Q. What relevant experience do you bring to the office you seek?
I am running for office because I believe that it shouldn't be such a struggle for parents to provide for their children, further their own education, and have hope of realizing the American dream of owning a home and sending their kids to college.
My professional career has spanned over three decades, much of that working as teacher, high school principal and technical college vice president. I have developed, balanced, and managed complex budgets since 1992. I understand how schools are funded and I have a historic perspective on how that funding has been shifted to local property taxpayers over the past thirty years.
In addition to my work as an education professional, I have worked on numerous public and private boards. I have experience managing complex projects and have worked with federal, state, and local government officials to assure our public schools, colleges and universities are prepared to meet the needs of the communities we serve.
As a state representative, I will work across the aisle to pass legislation and address the challenges that Wisconsin faces.
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?
The ultimate goal for funding our transportation systems should be strategies that assure a sustainable revenue stream for subsequent years. As a state representative, I will make sure that the state is investing in rural roads – not just mega-highway projects.
Because our transportation infrastructure has been neglected by GOP lawmakers in control of the statehouse, we will need to look at a multifaceted approach to begin rebuilding our roads and bridges. I believe a bipartisan effort should be made to discuss the feasibility of all options for funding our roads and infrastructure. Wisconsin should examine options that might include tolls on our most heavily traveled corridors in and out of the state, borrowing while interest rates are low, or changes to the wheel tax and the gasoline tax or vehicle registration fees.
The state legislature needs to stop kicking the can down the road when it comes to road funding.
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?
We need to make public education a priority again and guarantee a base rate of funding for every student.
Over the course of thirty years, an increasing share of funding for our public schools has been shifted onto local property taxpayers. Historically, the state had picked up approximately two-thirds of the funding, while local property taxpayers picked up the remaining one-third. Those funding percentages have flip-flopped and now local property taxpayers pick up a majority of the cost of running our schools. It’s frustrating to hear GOP lawmakers exclaim education is a priority while they continue to shift more and more of the costs to local property taxpayers while cutting funding to public schools year after year.
My opponent and Governor Walker have prioritized tax breaks for wealthy campaign contributors over the best interests of Wisconsin’s children. My opponent supports taking over $750 million from local public schools to fund unaccountable private schools. To appropriately fund our public schools we need to stop stripping away hundreds of millions of dollars to the unaccountable, private, for-profit voucher school program. We also need to stop giving away millions of dollars in tax breaks to the wealthiest GOP campaign contributors and reinvest those savings into our public schools.
We could also find additional financial resources to invest in education if Governor Walker would simply take advantage of the $300 million dollars in Federal Medicaid expansion funding. By doing so, 80,000 more Wisconsinites could access health care at a savings of $300 million dollars in the next two years alone. Those savings could back fill the cuts made to our public schools.
Q. What makes you the best candidate to represent your district?
Many people have told me that in the past, if you worked hard and played by the rules you could get ahead, but today it feels like people are just cheating the system and no one is doing anything about it. I will work to help restore opportunity and fight against corruption so that ordinary, hardworking Wisconsinites can get ahead.
I have three decades of real world career experience, building, balancing, and managing complex, multi-million dollar budgets.
I am not a career politician whose vote is beholden to wealthy, down state campaign contributors.
I know public education and understand that our public schools are the backbone of our rural communities. I will work to prioritize public education and assure adequate state support. I will not support taking over $750 million from local public schools to fund unaccountable private schools.
I understand economic development from serving on numerous private and public boards. I will seek bipartisan solutions to the numerous economic problems plaguing our state. I will hold Governor Walker and Republicans accountable for their failed job creation agency. Gov. Walker’s job agency should be held accountable for their mismanagement of state resources, for their failure to track tax credits, and their failure to document jobs, all while Wisconsin ranks at the bottom of the Midwest in job creation.
I am an avid sportsman who understands how important protecting our clean air and water is to our state’s sporting and outdoor enthusiasts, to our overall quality of life, and to economic development and tourism.
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?
Education – rebuilding our public K through 12 schools must be a priority. I will prioritize restoring state aid to our struggling local schools and ending the giveaways that send hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to private schools.
Protecting our Natural Resources/Local Control – I will work to reestablish the authority of local units of government and lakes associations to set zoning restrictions specific to the needs of landowners. I will work to reestablish the authority of the Department of Natural Resources to protect our clean air and water and keep Chronic Wasting Disease in check. I will support legislation that protects local control and requires any new state law or mandate to identify funding sources.
Economic and Workforce Development – I believe economic development is driven by investing in the development of our world-class workforce. Employers relocate to Wisconsin, or stay here, based on availability of a well trained workforce. Cuts to our Wisconsin Technical College System and University of Wisconsin System are shortsighted and will ultimately diminish our economic recovery.
Government Reform - I will work to restore transparency to our state government and hold our elected officials accountable by allowing them to be investigated and prosecuted for corruption. I will work to reduce or eliminate the influence of big money in our state’s elections. In 2014, outside special interests invested a majority of the $173,000 my opponent spent to get elected. I will make campaign finance reform a priority because government must work for all Wisconsinites, not just those who control power and buy influence. I will proudly be able to cast my vote and represent citizens of northwest Wisconsin who live and work here.
I respectfully ask for your vote on November 8. To learn more about me and my priorities please visit my website http://www.joehuftel.com/.