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State House District 40

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    Kris Spanjian

  • Barry Usher

Biographical Information

What are the most important challenges facing our state and how do you propose to address them?

Which solutions to climate change do you think are most important and most feasible for Montana?

What, if any, specific steps will you take to address inequalities facing women, especially women in minority populations, in our state?

What should state government do, if anything, to provide an equitable, quality public education for all children pre-K through grade 12?

What should our state do over the long term to ensure healthcare access for all?

Campaign Phone (406) 861-4895
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As a physician, I see basic healthcare as a right, not a privilege, but not all Montanans have adequate access, especially in our rural communities. Medicaid expansion has crucially supported rural clinics, hospitals and EMS and we need to protect this program - especially in light of the recent pandemic and its economic consequences. Promoting public health also means ensuring clean water, clean air, healthy landscapes and preservation of public lands – not only for our physical but also for our mental well-being. These elements support our state’s economy, too because healthcare, agriculture and outdoor industries are vitally important to our bottom line and to the recovery from this recession.
I favor approaching climate change from three perspectives: prevention, mitigation and preparedness. Preventing further increases in global temperature takes global measures but here in Montana we can help by decreasing our dependence on fossil fuels and increasing renewable energy sources like solar, wind, and biofuels, with storage capabilities. Mitigation should include energy efficiency programs with on-bill financing. Agricultural practices that promote carbon sequestration should also be used. Preparedness requires partnerships between industry, our experts in the Montana universities, private landowners and communities to provide incentive-driven efforts to address fire, drought, flood, and workforce disruptions.
Montana passed an equal pay law in 1919, but to this day women still only make 73% of the wage a man makes for the same work. This is unacceptable in 2020. I would support a bill that allows for paycheck transparency such as last session’s HB547. In addition, inequalities in education will lead to inequalities in the workforce and this is particularly true for minority populations. I support college loan reforms and mentoring programs to guide young women to and through higher education. In addition, providing affordable childcare will help and needs to be incentivized for employers.
First of all, I would like to see our teachers receive higher pay, which would encourage more of our high-achieving students to choose the teaching profession, as well as aid in the retention of excellent educators. Secondly, we need a state-funded public pre-K program so all of our youngsters can get off to a good start. Finally, to achieve these goals and to adequately fund all our public-school districts, we must not spend our tax dollars and education budget on schools that are already privately funded.
Sadly, our country is far behind others in providing affordable healthcare to all its citizens and in the long term, we need a federally funded program that would guarantee a universal basic level of care. From our state’s standpoint, it is critical to continue Medicaid expansion as it has provided care for over 90,000 Montanans, improved health outcomes, supported rural hospitals, supported healthcare jobs and all without significant increases in state spending or cutbacks on other programs. We need to encourage more health insurance companies to do business here, to lower prices through competition. Finally, I support our Family Medicine, Internal Medicine and Psychiatry programs which will provide doctors to needy regions in Montana.
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