1. When it comes to providing state-funded financial aid for college students, Montana ranks 49th in the nation. Do you think the state should contribute more toward higher education funding or should it be the responsibility of the student to fund their own college education?
Probably some of both. We are behind the curve in medical and technical training. All of these skills don’t necessarily require a four-year degree. We certainly don’t need to do away with four year degrees and the research that accompanies our four year schools but we have a real shortage of skill training to fit the job market. Carpenters, plumbers, electricians, truck drivers, medical technicians, technology are a few examples. Our high school and beyond education definitely needs to focus on more vocational type skill training. State funded higher education puts an unreasonable burden on all taxpayers, but student loans for the whole amount puts too much burden on the young person. A combination of funding with student loans, part-time work and grants could be the best solution. Some financial aid is necessary to limit the amount of student debt.
2. Do you think the state of Montana should increase state funding for affordable housing? Why or why not?
Various ideas are being explored now with co-ops and private-public partnerships. If this is an urban concern more than rural, then the cost should be managed somehow by the area of need. This is a huge problem with no easy solution. I think its going to take partnerships between counties, cities and state.
3. What, in your view, is the largest issue with management of Montana’s public lands? What should be done about it?
My thought is that access to public lands is probably at the top of most peoples’ minds. In talking with my constituents, I hear the frustration of more gates across roads. Roads that are open but nearly impassable because of lack of maintenance. People in western Montana and certainly the Bitterroot place such a high priority in being outside and recreating that it is heartbreaking to see our access to our beautiful public lands not maintained. Roads, trails, trailheads......these are a priority for all of us.
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