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Missoulian - Senate District 50: Niles Brush, Republican

Interview

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Should the Affordable Care Act -- national health care reform -- be repealed? And if so, what would replace it?

Yes, and return $700 billion taken from Medicare and restore reimbursement rates. The ACA balances expenditures on the backs of seniors who rely on Medicare. Future legislation should allow for portability of insurance between states and employers, alongside tort reform to encourage competition and reduce costs.

If Republicans don't win the presidency or Congress and the ACA is not repealed, should Montana continue to resist implementing it, even though it would be federal law?

We should evaluate state programs to eliminate overlaps with the ACA. Many corporations, unions and a few states were granted waivers. "Different strokes for different folks" fails to promote compassion, liberty and equality. Bad laws create differential treatment among the citizenry. Interjecting bureaucrats between doctor-patient relationships fails to provide high-quality health care. Republicans will work to protect Montanans' health care and our seniors from the overreach of the ACA.

Under the ACA, Montana has the option to expand Medicaid and cover at least another 50,000 people, with federal assistance. Would you support or not support expanding Medicaid in Montana? Why?

We must ensure Montanans are not being billed for multiple, overlapping programs. Before expanding any program, we must find a way to pay for the expansion. Currently, the ACA takes $700 billion from Medicare to pay for other programs, such as expanding Medicaid.

The Montana Constitution requires a balanced budget and Montanans do not have bottomless pockets. The ACA and Medicaid expansion essentially reduce funds for health care for seniors who live on fixed incomes and redistributes health care to people who do not qualify for Medicaid at this time.

Should the state money spent on public schools be increased or not? What changes would you suggest in this funding?

Our responsible development of natural resources, encouraging businesses to move here and protecting private property rights all contribute to a healthy tax base for our public school system. Additionally, parents deserve choices and students deserve a top-notch education. Vouchers in other states forced public schools to compete for students. This competition improved education in public schools. With more than 400 school districts in 56 counties, we have a lot of administrative overhead. Doing what is best for our children must be our top priority when we discuss education.

The oil-and-gas boom in eastern Montana is putting pressure on services, schools and infrastructure in that area. Should the state be doing anything to assist these areas and encourage the boom?

Many other areas in Montana have experienced booms in population and industry. The state's obligation lies with developing highways and roads to handle the increased volume of transportation. Missoula, Kalispell and Bozeman continue to grow without the state micro managing all infrastructure development. Radical environmentalists sue in court to stop any development in Montana. Responsible development in Montana will create jobs, fund schools and fund our infrastructure. In order to have more "Made in Montana" products on the shelves, we have to allow producers to open up shop here in Montana without being harassed by endless lawsuits.

Should Montana's incentives for renewable energy be amended in any way? If so, how?

As technology improves, renewable energy will eventually compete with fossil fuels in the free market. The federal government squandered millions investing in reckless companies, such as the now bankrupt Solyndra. Instead of gambling with subsidies, we should set efficiency goals and reward companies that actually meet those goals. Rewards, not gambles, are a more responsible use of taxpayer dollars.

Should Montana be encouraging coal production for export? How?

We possess technology for cleaner use of coal power and steel manufacturing plants than those in China. Our pollution regulations are also stricter. Steel can be made here in Montana for windmills, bridges, electrical transmission towers, buildings and many other uses. We can use our coal here or export it. Lowering energy costs and putting more Montanans to work benefits all Montanans, improves state revenues, funds our schools and reduces transportation costs.

Is there anything Montana should be doing to encourage oil-and-gas development in the state?

We can strike a balance between industry and the environment. We can responsibly develop our resources while creating opportunity for success for all Montanans. Opening up more leases in the future would encourage economic growth. The additional costs of lawsuits, many originating from out-of-state interests, raise costs for all of us. Discouraging development will reduce revenues for the state and alter the property tax base and natural resource revenues our schools rely on to educate the next generation.


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