General election candidate questionnaire: Tony Bukaty, House Dist. 33
The following are Republican Tony Bukaty's answers to The Chieftain's candidate questionnaire:
Biographical information for Tony Bukaty
Years lived in district: Born and raised in Wyandotte County. Graduated from Bonner Springs High School, 1994). Have lived at current address since 2005.
Professional experience: Attorney and small business owner (Bukaty Law Offices, P.A.) in Kansas City, KS.
Political and civic experience: Past vice-president for four years of the Delaware Ridge Neighborhood Homes Association. Candidate for the 36th KS House District (2006).
Why did you decide to run for this seat?
As a life-long resident of the Western Wyandotte County-Bonner Springs area, a successful small business owner and a civic-minded person, I feel I can bring my skills and an open-minded, listening-oriented approach to the table and help the 33rd District and its residents and communities prosper.
What will be your primary goal or goals if elected?
To promote broad-based and sustained economic growth in the district and to encourage new business development to improve the quality of life for all residents. I will also fight for policies which put Kansas on a stable financial footing.
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?
The adequacy of funding for public education is an issue which requires constant review. Public education currently constitutes a substantial portion of Kansas state spending. My brother is a public school teacher and I attended public schools in Wyandotte County. I believe quality public schools require adequate levels of funding and I will advocate for continued school-funding in the legislature and do not believe that cuts to education would be helpful. I would seek out the advice of educators and school administrators in determining the needs of schools in the district and ways to help in assisting student performance.
Are there areas in the state budget that could be reduced? Please provide specifics.
I am sure there are parts of the budget which could be reduced and programs which should be reviewed, but I believe the real issue is not necessarily looking for major cuts (that has already been done to some extent). The priority should be capping spending at sustainable levels and strictly curbing the growth and creation of new programs and state employees. State government needs to be flexible, efficient and responsible enough to fund programs without tax increases.
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?
I believe local business growth should be encouraged and will yield long-terms benefits in the form of greater employment and increased revenues. However, I am open-mined with regard to the tax legislation and would consider all reasonable proposals based upon what would be most beneficial for the needs of the district.
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?
Given the current economic circumstances, I believe that state government should seek ways to restrain spending just as taxpayers have had to do and I would not be inclined to support a permanent tax increase.
Do you support or oppose Gov. Brownback's proposal to privatize Medicaid? If you oppose, what do you intend to do about it?
I believe the governor is looking for funding solutions for what has become a very costly program and will likely be expanding even further in terms of enrollment and cost. I would want to study more closely the governor’s proposals but I think that some version of the this proposal will be necessary and unavoidable over time.
Should the state start to implement the Affordable Care Act, specifically the establishment of a state health exchange and expansion of Medicaid?
I have serious concerns about many parts of the new healthcare legislation which have the potential to reduce choice and place burdens on individuals and employers. There also some positive aspects to it. In terms of the exchange, if the state does not act, the federal department of HHS will intervene unless there are substantial changes to the legislation in the U.S. Congress. Expanding Medicaid, even if the federal government is to assume most of costs for a certain period of time, will eventually lead to huge budget burdens in Kansas, draining funds from other priorities and is not something I view as wise.
Why should voters select you instead of your opponent?
I respect my opponent and his service, however, the district he has represented since 1997 and now been substantially redrawn and with these charges I believe it is time for new representation and new ideas. I know very well the issues confronting the 33rd District, in Bonner Springs, Edwardsville and Kansas City, KS. I have a record of community service and a commitment to Wyandotte County. I am also committed to providing accountable, responsive representation to and reaching –out to all residents to hear their views and concerns.