General election candidate questionnaire: Steve Fitzgerald, Senate Dist. 5
The following are Steve Fitzgerald's answers to The Chieftain's candidate questionnaire:
Why did you decide to run for this seat?
We need better representation in Topeka – we need a state government that actually represents Kansans rather than acting as a branch office of Washington DC. We need a free market that will encourage businesses and create jobs.
What will be your primary goal or goals if elected?
Improve the economy by encouraging businesses – getting Kansans back to work. Economic growth is essential and will help to reduce or eliminate our other problems. A continued economic decline will only lead to more difficulties. Other states have reversed similar declines and Kansas must as well.
Biographical information for Steve Fitzgerald
Years lived in district (Wyandotte County): Since 1985
Family: Wife Francie and five children
Retired Army officer; businessman; consultant with Northrop Grumman Corporation.
Political and civic experience:
Vice-president of school board; various elected positions within Republican Party including treasurer of the Kansas State Republican Party; participant in numerous political campaigns
Do you think schools are adequately funded? If not, what would be a proper level of funding and how would the state get that revenue?
Good schools are essential to economic growth. Productive companies and families will not come to or stay in a place that does not have excellent education opportunities. Funding for education is a constitutional obligation of the state that must be balanced with local control. The proper level of funding provides at a minimum the basics to every student to prepare him for whatever field he might want to pursue after secondary schooling. However, we must realize that there have been enormous increases in funding for K-12 education without commensurate results. Improvements must be made – but, increasing funding is not likely to be any more able to improve performance than it has in the past. There must be improvements in education management.
Are there areas in the state budget that could be reduced? Please provide specifics.
The state has reduced budgets for several years and it appears that efficiencies might still be achieved in the further expansion of automation to increase productivity. We should do a review by agency to determine trends in employees and look at measures of effectiveness. For example, if an agency had four hundred workers ten or fifteen years ago and has since automated should we not expect that the workforce would decrease, all else being equal? I am not sure that we have actually reaped the benefits of our investments in automation. Everyone else is doing more with less – we need to check to see if our expectations are being met.
There has been much concern that the tax cuts signed into law by Gov. Sam Brownback -- especially the portion that eliminates taxes on non-wage income for numerous business owners -- will deprive the state of the revenue needed to properly fund schools, social services and public safety. Will you seek or support efforts to pare back those tax breaks for businesses?
There are two assumptions involved. First is the Governor’s assumption that the cuts will spur businesses to expand and create jobs. The other assumption is yours: that they will not. If the Governor is correct then actual revenues to the state will not decrease and may well increase.
Owners of small businesses in Kansas do most of the hiring and over 70% of the businesses in Kansas employ ten people or fewer and will benefit from this tax cut. It will allow them to retain profits so that they can expand, capitalize, and hire. Consider that the private job sector in Kansas has been flat for over twenty years. Companies and people have been leaving for other states seeking profits and jobs. Do we really need more proof that what we had been doing is not working?
I will support actions to restore prosperity, to expand the economy, to increase the number of jobs in the private sector.
The 6.3 percent state sales tax is scheduled to fall back to 5.7 percent on July 1, 2013. But some have talked about making the temporary sales tax increase permanent as a way to maintain funding. Is that something you would support?
I do not like any tax. We must have government and we must pay for it. Sales tax has the advantage that we can avoid it by simply not buying things – so it is a bit less obnoxious than income and property taxes. However, I would support exempting food from sales tax.
Do you support or oppose Gov. Brownback's proposal to privatize Medicaid? If you oppose, what do you intend to do about it?
Medicaid is consuming an ever-greater share of the state budget. The proposed managed-care system overseen by three private insurers could better coordinate services and control the costs of health care for 385,000 poor or disabled Kansans. There is some doubt that the administration can really save $850 million over five years without cutting care or providers’ fees. There is also the problem of obtaining waivers from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services, for KanCare to proceed.
Overall, I support it because the situation demands bold action to protect the state’s ability to provide these services. The track we are on is unsustainable. Action is necessary and this proposal offers a real alternative that could prevent the bankruptcy of the entire system.
Should the state start to implement the Affordable Care Act, specifically the establishment of a state health exchange and expansion of Medicaid?
The Affordable Care Act is an unconstitutional over-reach by the federal government – including the federal supreme court. Using the power to lay taxes as an excuse to penalize Americans for not buying healthcare is only the start – why not penalize us for not buying electric cars from GM? Or, perhaps we will be penalized for not using government approved day-care. The limits on federal power are being ignored. The American Republic is based on limited government and it is on the endangered species list. A state exchange has one purpose only – to expedite the implementation of this unconstitutional law in Kansas. The state exchange must not be permitted.
Other solutions to help provide affordable healthcare insurance are available through expansion of insurance in Kansas through regional compacts and better insurance laws and regulations among the regional states. Washington DC is not the center of all wisdom – far from it and we should be careful to avoid solutions which begin with our sending all our money to Washington only to get it back with mandates, restrictions, conditions, and such.
Why should voters select you instead of your opponent?
My opponent has done everything possible to hinder small businesses in this state. She has a ranking of 7 out of 100 from the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB). Other pro-business groups give her similarly low ratings; one gives her a zero. She has made it clear that she favors greatly expanded government, voting for huge tax increases and spending.
I have been a businessman in this district with up to fifteen employees. The taxes and regulations of government are a reality to me. I know the economic cost of poor government. I know it in terms of employees not hired and wages not raised because of a rotten economy. We need a return to prosperity and the only way to do that is to let Kansans do what they have always done: start and grow businesses, raise families, organize communities. We do not need government for any of this – we need to be largely left alone. I will vote for lower taxes and fewer regulations. That’s why voters should select me instead of my opponent.