Party: Republican, incumbent
Occupation: Owner of Bigfork Inn Restaurant 1982-2018, now retired partner in International Newspaper Network (townnews.com) Family: Married 38 years to wife, Suzie; five children, six grandchildren.
Education: BS in Hotel, Restaurant and Travel Administration from the University of Massachusetts
Background: Montana House of Representatives, two terms, 1995-98; Montana State Senate, three terms, 1999-2006, 2015-18; Senate President 2003-2004; Minority Leader 2005-2006; Senate President Pro Tempore 2017-2018. Numerous national, state and social associations, committees, councils and boards.
[Editor’s note: Democratic challenger Jennifer Allen of Kalispell has withdrawn from the Senate District 5 race.]
Q: A slate of budget cuts were made in 2017 to address a $227 million shortfall caused by less than anticipated revenue and an expensive fire season. What should the priorities be in the state budget in the next legislative session?
A: Getting a legitimate revenue forecast is the most important priority in the process. Controlling the growth of government will help avoid cuts made by the governor with political motives.
Q: Do you support a sales tax or other tax increases as a way to shore up the budget and increase revenue?
Q: Montana’s Medicaid expansion program is set to expire in 2019. Should the state renew this program?
A: This program is hemorrhaging because the State Health Department is incapable of managing medical care. They just pay bills and look for more money. The work-training program is a disaster. Premiums are negligible and the public-private partnership for management has been abandoned. This program passed with the promise of review in the ’19 legislative session. I-185 is bankrolled by the biggest benefactors of the program as an end run around the Legislature.