May 21, 2012 11:08 PM by Marnee Banks - Montana's News Station

Gubernatorial Candidate Profile: Corey Stapleton

Corey and his wife Terry, are both fourth generation Montanan's who grew up in Great Falls. After more than a decade in the Navy, they've made their home in Billings, where you'll find them at a variety of business, school, church, music, and sporting events with their four children.

Enlisting into the Navy's nuclear power program out of Great Falls High School in 1986, Corey quickly rose through the ranks and earned an appointment to the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, where he graduated with an engineering degree in 1992. Assigned to the aircraft carrier USS John F. Kennedy (CV-67), Corey qualified as Officer of the Deck (underway) and Surface Warfare Officer as an Ensign.

Going to night school while stationed at the Philadelphia Naval shipyard, Corey received a master's degree in political science from Temple University in 1995, before reporting to the Aegis cruiser USS Hue City (CG-66) in Mayport, Florida, as the missile Fire Control Officer. After making three overseas deployments, and a fulfilling navy career, he and Terry returned to Montana in 1997, where Corey began his career as a financial advisor.

Corey was the first Generation X-er elected to the Montana state senate in 2000, and re-elected in 2004 before being term-limited. He ascended quickly into leadership within the Republican caucus. In 2005 he was elected as Chairman of the statewide Legislative Campaign Committee, where he created a statewide campaign platform called "Handshake with Montana". 'Handshake' proved decisive in the 2006 elections against the Democrats' platform response "Square Deal". Montana was the only state in America that year where the GOP regained control of a chamber of the legislature - and it happened in both the House and Senate - winning back the House and tying in the senate. Corey served as the minority leader his final legislative session in 2007.

Corey has received numerous leadership awards over his 20 years of public service and 13 years in business. He has been a member of Rotary, Chamber of Commerce, and the American Legion. He currently serves as President of the Montana School for the Deaf and Blind foundation. Corey and his family enjoy camping, hunting, fishing, and all sorts of sporting activities.


Currently the State of Montana is predicted to end the biennium with more than $400 million in the general fund. What will you do with this money?

I would like to rewrite the way we pay for schools, by eliminating 95 mills of property tax statewide. This corresponding tax relief is approximately $220 million, and would be backfilled by new and expanded natural resource revenue. But in the first year, $220 million of the surplus would go towards the 20-25% property tax reduction all homeowners would get. I would like to leave $100 million ending fund balance, and use the remainder to wean Montana off of Federal dollars that come with strings attached.

The State of Montana is facing a huge deficit in its pension system. How do you plan on addressing this?

Jobs first, Pensions second. Over 30,000 Montanans are without a job. We need to focus on getting our economy back on track, then deal with our pensions in the second half of my term--which I have committed to do.

Are you happy with the state's current eminent domain laws? If not, what would you like to see changed?

No. I would like to see a three-tiered system, where in the rare occurrence of eminent domain, Montana entities would be given highest priority. Second priority would go to United States entities, and third priority for condemning property would go to foreign entities.

How would you like to see Fish, Wildlife & Parks manage wolves?

Agree to safeguard the original agreed-upon breeding pairs in the Yellowstone region, and allow hunting of all others.

If the U.S. Supreme Court keeps the Affordable Care Act intact, an estimated 82,000 Montanans will be added to the Medicaid system by 2019. How do you plan on paying for this?

I don't, because we can't. Let's wait until June 2012 to see what the U.S. Supreme Court determines.

Last session the Montana Legislature tightened up the state's DUI laws. Do you believe they are adequate? If not, where would you like to see changes?

In almost two years of my campaigning for governor, changing DUI laws has never come up once.

Montana is rich in natural resources. What is your plan for developing wind, oil, gas and coal?

Eliminate 95 mills statewide property tax, increase natural resource revenues from the Bakken, Otter Creek, etc., as a way to backfill that lost revenue--and use that expanded revenue to pay for our schools. Unions in Montana should (and need to) support our natural resource development, and increasing unions' dependence on good outcomes of natural resource development will be good for Montana.

Explain where you stand on abortion, homosexual marriage, & the death penalty.

I'm against abortion, against homosexual marriage, and for the death penalty.

Are you proposing any changes to Montana's tax structure? If so please explain.

Lower property taxes 20-25% statewide (which is accomplished by eliminating the currently shared 95 mills).

Should corporations be allowed to spend money to influence Montana elections? Why or why not?

I don't care. I'm not running to play 'referee', I'm running to be governor and I'll abide by whatever system the people of Montana (and/or Courts) say is constitutional. As long as both unions and corporations are treated the same--i.e. both excluded from participating in elections, or both allowed to spend influence, then I'm good with it. I'm running for Quarterback, not Referee.

Do you think Montana voters trust their elected officials? Please explain.

I think it totally depends on the person. There are politicians I don't trust, and some that I do. Trust is earned, and has no party affiliation.

Why should someone vote for you?

I'm a person of ideas and leadership. Always have been. I believe we need new leadership in the Republican party, and I have the passion, experience, and integrity to do things for the right reasons.


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