Vincent Zilka - State Assembly Dist. 28 - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Vincent Zilka - State Assembly Dist. 28

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

I am a problem solver, and love to spend long hours researching the best ways to solve problems in such a way that will allow for the greatest cost/benefit gain in the long term. I do not believe in cutting corners because saving a buck in the short term could cost many thousands in the long run. It is better to do a job right the first time then to have to continually redo it wasting time and money. During my time in the Army I was responsible for many hundreds of thousands of dollars in sensitive equipment that I was responsible for doing the research and advising the best course of action to save my unit time and money.

After my time in service was over I started working for the Army as a civilian training soldiers on new equipment that was being fielded. This allows me to be comfortable in front of groups of people and convey information to them in a way that they will be able to understand.

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?

First of all I think we should get rid of the gas tax for residents of the state of Wisconsin and go to miles traveled per year on vehicle registration (must have previous vehicles miles to get new registration to prevent constant switching of vehicles to avoid tax) so that all vehicles are paying a fair share as right now 100% electric vehicles are exempt and the increasing gas mileage is preventing us from collecting the necessary money to finance road projects.

Having said that infrastructure is a vital need for the state of Wisconsin… and not just the roads. We need to start planning ahead as a state for infrastructure updates and replacement not just putting out fires as they pop up. There is basic planning and project prioritizing that is used in manufacturing that I can bring to the table that the other candidates cannot so we can prioritize between scheduled and unscheduled maintenance and get the state ahead of the curve. By planning ahead of time what, where, and how to replace aging infrastructure we can save money in the long run and alleviate the burden on citizens of the state of Wisconsin. What I suggest is setting up an account for state funds to be deposited into that can only be used for infrastructure replacement so we can save for and budget to complete projects without going into debt (like average Americans have to). This way we can start updating the infrastructure around the state to give us the best long term plan for our future. It is my belief that we should invest in a study to determine which infrastructure is the most critical based on safety, necessity, and cost/benefit. Then we need to plan to do as much as we can at the same time to save costs; replacing telecommunications, sewer, water, and water runoff in such a way that we can easily inspect, update, and replace any in the future as new technologies come available saving the state untold amounts of money and allowing us to be one of the first in the country with an updated infrastructure system and to be one of the most advanced in the nation. We want to be ahead of the curve to prevent cases like in Flint, MI.

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?

First of all we need to stop the school voucher system and give the funding to mental health programs for school system to prevent suicides. Then we should implement an intake screening for students when they are first getting into the school system to evaluate them for susceptibility to depression and suicide and provide the earliest care to give the best long term result. We should also look at implementing mental health programs inside schools modeled after Minnesota’s program.

I think that all of the state agencies need to be audited to show how they spend their finances they have been given in past years to look for fraud, waste, and abuse that often runs rampant in government agencies and ensuring that the public’s money is being spent appropriately. I have heard of agencies using their money on frivolous expenses to ensure they get the same funding from year to year. Furthermore state aid should not be going to private schools. We need to set a solid per student rate that all public schools get despite of locality to ensure the schools have access to the same programs. If schools feel it is necessary to get additional funding by implementing levys then they should be allowed to as it is cheaper than borrowing.

I would also like to implement a state teacher conference put on at the University of Wisconsin during the summer months to allow teachers to stay in dorms cost free to them and very cheap to the taxpayers, which allows them to interact with other teachers to talk about things they have tried in their classrooms and to develop new teaching methods and incorporate them into the classrooms allowing for a greater level of instruction state wide. We should also evaluate the requirements to be a teacher, allowing professionals in certain fields to teach even if they do not have a bachelor’s degree, which may help us address the teacher shortage and bring back or make stronger hands on programs (Metal shop, Wood shop, Welding, Electronics, and Home Economics).

Finally I would like to implement the maps Test at beginning and end of year eliminating all other federal and state standardized testing leaving the rest of the year for teachers to teach curriculum and not teach to tests.

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

I am a US Army veteran, prior educator, gunsmith, and machinist but one of the things I think makes me most suited to being a representative is that I consider myself to be a guardian and that I have always looked after people that I have felt were not able to or would not stand up for themselves. In this particular case I am just expanding who I am covering at one time to the entire 28th Assembly district as I feel like the current political parties have ulterior motives and no longer represent their constituents. I am running to protect the integrity of the constitution and bill of rights while ensuring that my constituents get their voice back as I believe that any “power” the government may have it derives from its citizens and they are the ones who should have the ultimate say over what happens.

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?

Schools

  • Stop the school voucher system and give the funding to mental health programs for school system to prevent suicides.
  • We should implement an intake screening for students when they are first getting into the school system to evaluate them for susceptibility to depression and suicide and provide the earliest care to give the best long term result.
  • Implement Mental Health programs inside schools – model after MN program
  • Maps Test at beginning and end of year eliminating all other federal and state standardized testing leaving the rest of the year for teachers to teach curriculum and not teach to tests.
  • Bring back or make stronger hands on programs (Metal shop, Wood shop, Welding, Electronics, and Home Economics).
  • We must address the teacher shortage.
  • Standardized per pupil rate for schools across the state.

Law Enforcement

  • Drugs (Meth, Heroin, prescription, etc.) - (effects individuals, families, unborn children, and communities) Fund long term treatment which means nine months to a year minimum inpatient and outpatient.
  • I would address the police shortage and funding issues in our district.
  • Ensure there is at least one K9 officer in each county.

Property issues

  • I would address law changes that took away local control (lake shore, cell towers) and get the power back to the municipality level or individuals where it belongs.
  • Agriculture/property runoff – algae blooms

Others

  • Welfare – Community service to get benefits (Time standard per project paid at minimum wage) allowing individuals to be productive and cutting costs associated with municipalities having to pay someone else to do the same tasks.
  • Roads – Get rid of gas tax, go to miles traveled per year for registration (must have previous vehicles miles to get new registration to prevent constant switching of vehicles to avoid tax. Must also be a resident to get tax free status).
  • High income and property taxes coupled with low wages.
  • Levy Cap
  • We must find a way to stimulate economic growth allowing businesses to provide jobs (probably by cutting unnecessary regulations and taxes i.e. the personal property tax, yet ensuring business do pay their fair share).
  • Address unfunded projects that are handed down to local agencies (we unfairly expect them to do more with less).
  • We need to address the fact that AB 388 that replaced the GAB with an appointed committee allowing for politicians to corrupt the election process.
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