Posted: May 23, 2012 9:46 PM by MTN
Updated: May 24, 2012 10:36 AM
Montana Gubernatorial Candidate Profile: Rick Hill
Rick Hill's career has spanned from business to public service; Rick has run businesses, helped others get their businesses started, and served as Montana's Representative in Congress. During his time in Congress, Rick was recognized for his work in defense of free enterprise and personal liberty, and his commitment to fighting federal over-reach and budget deficits.
Rick also served as a volunteer Chairman of the Board of the Montana State Fund. With a $550 million deficit and rates the 2nd highest in the nation, work comp was a major obstacle to growth, and after only three years under his leadership the deficit was replaced with a $120 million surplus and rates were reduced by over 50%.
Rick has been married to Betti for 28 years; they have three grown sons and seven grandchildren.
Rick announced his bid for governor in November of 2010, and has since been endorsed by several business organizations and local leaders across the state.
In January of 2012, Rick announced that State Senator Jon Sonju of Kalispell would join him on the Republican ticket as his running mate. Elected to the Montana Legislature in 2004, Jon has served in both the State House and the State Senate. During his time in the legislature he has been a consistent advocate for economic opportunity, smaller government, and the protection of our personal freedoms. Jon was born and raised in the Flathead Valley where he still resides today. He and his wife Tania have two young children, Jacob (6) and Brett (4).
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?
To the extent there is a structural surplus, it should be returned to taxpayers by lowering local property taxes by changing how we fund education. Additionally, I want to use the state's share of revenues from oil and gas development along with lease and royalty income from Otter Creek coal to change how we fund education and thereby reduce local property taxes. In these uncertain times we need to make sure we are using Montanans tax dollars efficiently and that the private sector has capital to grow and expand our economy.
The State of Montana is facing a huge deficit in its pension system. How do you plan on addressing this?
We have a duty to live up to retirement promises made to teachers and state employees. The solution will be multifaceted with shared responsibility. Montana public sector pensions are far more generous than those in the private-sector; therefore reforms will also ensure taxpayers that future benefits are fair and balanced.
Are you happy with the state's current eminent domain laws? If not, what would you like to see changed?
Private property rights are very important. They are part of our heritage dating back to the Declaration of Independence, that is why the U. S. Constitution and the Montana Constitution protect our property and prohibit government takings of private property without a public purpose and just compensation.
Projects such as the Tongue River Rail Road to facilitate development of Otter Creek Coal, the Keystone XL Pipeline, expanded electrical generation projects, oil and gas collection and transportation projects may involve eminent domain. Our job is to make sure the process is fair to landowners.
As governor I would support legislation to protect landowners from regulatory takings and I will oppose federal and local government regulatory restrictions that also endanger property. I stand in firm support of private property rights and eliminating government interference in property management, both from the state and federal government.
How would you like to see Fish, Wildlife & Parks manage wolves?
I have worked with legislators, landowners, sportsmen groups, and other stakeholders to present an aggressive plan that will substantially reduce wolf numbers, stop their spread, and reduce adverse impacts on our wildlife and livestock while maintaining state-control in management.
You can read more about my wolf management plan here:
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?
Our current governor has stated that there are mandates in Obamacare that would bankrupt our state. The employer mandates will strain business and reduce employee benefits, and the individual mandates infringe upon our personal freedom. If the law is upheld, we need to seek waivers in order to protect our rights and freedoms. Obamacare is not the solution to our health care problems, that why we will propose Montana made reforms that address cost, improve quality, and increase access. Health care costs are soaring beyond the financial capacity of many Montanans. Real heath care reform must address the soaring costs and wasted utilization. We need to work to lower costs while increasing choices and eliminating waste. We will do that by promoting greater transparency about provider quality and costs. We will encourage incentives so that consumers engage primary care providers with an emphasis on long- term health. We will promote lawsuit reforms to eliminate wasteful and expensive defensive medicine.
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?
We need to enforce our DUI laws aggressively, especially for repeat offenders.
Montana is rich in natural resources. What is your plan for developing wind, oil, gas and coal?
During my time in Congress, I successfully prevented the federal government's attempt to lock up the Otter Creek coal tracts because I realized that energy development means economic opportunity and better paying jobs for Montanans - that belief still holds true today.
One key to economic growth in Montana lies in natural resource development, and our abundance of natural resources give us a competitive advantage when it comes to energy development. I believe we can safely and responsibly utilize that advantage to create more jobs and grow our economy. We don't have to trade "Big Sky Country" for "The Treasure State" - we can have both.
Montana has the potential to supply the energy needs of our nation while creating jobs and economic opportunity here at home. But, for our state to reach its fullest economic potential through responsible energy development, we need to break the self-imposed barriers that are holding us back. We are surrounded by states seeing more economic prosperity from energy development because they can insure investors of one thing: predictability. We need to create a culture where our state government is administering policies and programs that help, not hinder, those that want to make an investment in our state. We must reform our regulations to ensure they achieve their intended purpose, but don't provide endless opportunities for litigation.
Explain where you stand on abortion, homosexual marriage, & the death penalty.
I oppose abortion because I believe it represents the destruction of an innocent human life. I support measures that discourage or limit abortions such as parental notification, informed consent, waiting periods and the ban on partial birth abortions. I believe marriage is between one man and one woman. I support the death penalty.
Are you proposing any changes to Montana's tax structure? If so please explain.
We need a tax structure that is simple and fair. We need to lower property taxes for homeowners and small businesses. I want to use the revenues from new oil and gas development along with the royalties from Otter Creek coal to change how we fund education and reduce property taxes for all Montanans.
In addition to reducing the tax burden for Montanans, we also need to address how government spends your tax dollars and ensure they are being used efficiently. That's why I support the implementation of priority budgeting. It will help set a framework whereby we judge state programs based on their performance and allocate funding accordingly. The good programs that accomplish what they were intended to do will be funded, and the poor- performing programs will be cut. Right now, our state doesn't even measure the performance of its programs and therefore we have no guidance on our spending decisions
Should corporations be allowed to spend money to influence Montana elections? Why or why not?
When I served Montanans in Congress, I joined the effort to ban soft money going to political parties. The Constitution gives everyone the right to speak, but we shouldn't have a process where some people get to speak and others don't based off their political friends. Everyone should be playing by the same rules with absolute transparency.
Do you think Montana voters trust their elected officials? Please explain.
It's important that elected officials are working hard to earn the trust of Montanans, one way an elected official can do that is through an open government. Montanans expect their government to be efficient, transparent, open, and accountable. As a member of Congress I published my schedule and will do so as governor. I will also meet regularly with legislative leaders of both parties to encourage an open dialogue and to ratchet down the explosive and corrosive rhetoric that has dominated legislative sessions in recent years.
Why should someone vote for you?
As the saying goes, actions speak louder than words. That's what Montana needs in its next governor, someone who has shown they can make the tough decisions and provide result-oriented solutions that produce a brighter future for all Montanans. I believe that my actions in both the private and public sector have demonstrated that I can take on difficult situations and implement solutions to complex problems.
It's my proven leadership experience that sets me apart from my opponents. In the private sector and public sector, I have built a reputation for taking on difficult situations and implementing solutions to complex problems. I have run successful businesses, helped others get their businesses off the ground, and during my term serving in Congress I made it a priority to make Montana more economically competitive. In addition, I am the only candidate in the Republican primary that has been elected to statewide office and proven that I can bring not only Republicans, but all Montanans together.My running mate, Jon Sonju, and I want to unleash Montana's economic potential so that more and better paying jobs can be created. That means breaking down the legal and regulatory barriers that are holding us back, ensuring that our children are being educated for a 21st century economy, managing a government that we can afford, and protecting Montanans from an overreaching federal government.
We have solutions to lower property taxes for all Montanans by utilizing natural resource revenues, protect Montanans from federal overreach, aggressively manage our wolf population, and ensure that your tax dollars are being used efficiently by implementing priority budgeting.
Jon and I are running on ideas that Montanans embrace: less government, lower taxes, and more jobs. If you agree, give us a shot-we'll get the job done.