HD-3: O’Neil says he’ll fight to instill government efficiency

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JERRY O’NEIL

Age: 75

Party: Republican

Education: Studied at Montana State and University of Montana, AA degree from Flathead Valley Community College

Occupation: Independent paralegal

Background: I was born in the old hospital on Fifth Avenue East in Kalispell and attended Elrod grade school. After grade school I attended Central School for the 7th and 8th grades and then graduated from Flathead County High school (now Flathead High School). I worked at Boeing in Seattle for about one year, came back to the Flathead where I started a production woodwork shop selling cabinet doors for mobile home and camper manufacturers. I became an independent paralegal and was admitted to practice law before the Blackfeet Tribal Court System in 1984. I am still helping the public with divorces, probates and other legal problems. Served several terms in Montana Legislature.

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: It is the role of government to protect our freedoms. Therefore, I will do what I can to maintain our police, courts, mental-health services and correctional facilities (including parole and probation services). We also need to maintain our wonderful public schools, while allowing alternatives for non-traditional students.

Q: Do you support a sales tax or other tax increases as a way to shore up the budget and increase revenue?

A: I do not support a sales tax. I believe we need to make sure our government functions within the budget we can afford. It appears to me that when the Canadian skiers come to the valley, they bypass the Sportsman & Ski Haus in Whitefish with its local option sales tax and proceed to the Sportsman & Ski Haus on Hutton Ranch Road [in Kalispell] which does not charge them a sales tax. It amazes me how many Canadian vehicles I see at the Costco store. I believe many of these people would go elsewhere if we charged a sales tax.

Q: Montana’s Medicaid expansion program is set to expire in 2019. Should the state renew this program?

A: I don’t believe we should expand taxpayer-funded health care while the costs are spiraling. Instead, I will continue to attempt to provide competition in the field like my previous bill to repeal the “Certificates of Need” we require which stifles competition in the provision of health-care services. We should not have to prove to the government that our services are necessary before we invest our own money providing them.

I believe we need to study how to get more competition in the pharmaceutical industry, whether by allowing us to purchase our medicines from other countries, or making it easier to get competitive medicines on the market.

Q: Which other issues would you like to see addressed by the Legislature?

A: We have over 50 occupations which are protected from competition by state-mandated licenses. I would like to make sure the hoops potential competitors need to jump through to get these licenses are really necessary to protect the public.

Q: Why are you the right choice to represent your district?

A: I am the pro-family, pro-freedom candidate who will fight to keep our government efficient and answerable to the people.

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