Great Falls Rising invited all the legislative candidates in Cascade County to fill out our survey, which consisted of the questions in our 2022 Voter’s Guide. This is the second survey sent back to us. Jasmine Krotkov is a Democrat candidate for HD 25. She was the former legislator for this district.
1. What policies would you enact in Helena 2023 to ensure the safety from gun violence of all Montanans, from school children to citizens in public spaces?
Montana has a long history of responsible gun ownership, but from 2011 to 2020, the rate of gun deaths increased 27%. The way we use guns and teach people about gun safety has changed. We need to be sure that all people who use guns receive safety training, and to resume universal background checks. There is a place for guns in our lives, just not in schools, bars or public buildings.
2. What is your position on white supremacist hate groups like the ones who have posted “White Lives Matter” stickers in Downtown Great Falls?
White supremacist and Christian nationalist organizations have been used to justify systemic violence against poor people and people of color in Montana ever since the forced removal of indigenous people from their lands.
Emboldened with support from high-profile national and religious figures, politicians, celebrities and mainstream exposure, these groups have fundamentally distorted the principles of our Constitution to move forward a racist, sexist, classist and dangerous political agenda. Indeed, their politics are advancing violence on a startling scale, which threatens our democracy and is opening the door to even greater assaults on our fundamental and basic rights.
I applaud citizens like Tawny Cale, who received the Good Neighbor Award from Neighborhood Council 3 for her quick action in identifying the flyers and getting them removed.
3. What do you believe is the role of climate change in jeopardizing Montanans’ Constitutionally guaranteed right to a “clean and healthful environment”?
Climate change and the depletion of the earth’s ecosystems are having a devastating impact on Montana’s inhabitants, both human and non-human. Responding to the increasingly frequent extreme weather events is expensive and detracts unnecessarily from our efforts to “improve the quality of life, equality of opportunity and to secure the blessings of liberty for this and future generations.”
I applaud the 16 youth plaintiffs who have sued the state over its energy policy, because our heavy dependence of fossil fuels infringes on their right to a clean and healthful environment.
4. What threats do you see to our public school system, and how would you address those threats?
Inflation and recruitment and retention issues put a tremendous strain on school budgets. We should restore the state share of school funding to ensure that our public educational dollars are being spent on public education.
Montana is one of only eight states that doesn’t fund Early Childhood Education. We can close the “Intangible personal property exemption” tax loophole, and use that $15m to fund statewide public pre-kindergarten for four-year-olds.
Schools and communities need high quality professional services to deal with the rising mental health and wellness needs of our youth. We can close the “oil and gas tax holiday” loophole, and invest $11.5m in wrap around services for students and professional support for teachers.
Recruitment and retention of teachers is hampered by the fact that Montana has the lowest beginning teacher salaries in the nation. We can update the corporate minimum tax, apply the tax to pass-through entities, and use the $58m in revenue to fund living wages for teachers.
5. Do you believe Montana currently holds free and fair elections? If not, what evidence do you have of Montana voter fraud or election irregularity?
I believe Montana currently holds free and fair elections, except for the disenfranchisement of Native and low income voters through efforts to end Election Day voter registration, changed voter ID requirements, and banning paid ballot collection.
6. Do you believe all Montanans should be forced to purchase their energy from a single company? If so, what should Montanans expect in return for this monopoly privilege? How would you hold the Public Service Commission accountable for its responsibility to protect your constituents as ratepayers?
Montana’s model of regulating monopoly Investor Owned Utilities (IOUs) like Northwestern Energy has advantages and disadvantages. IOUs make their money by building things like transmission lines, and in Montana, they are also allowed to make money by generating electricity. In other states, where IOUs are not allowed to generate electricity, there is more competition, which keeps prices lower. The Montana Legislature could be incentivizing other companies to become more viable and diversity to our energy generation mix, and invert the incentive structure, so that IOUs get a higher rate of return when they sell less energy. We can also creatively tie utility rates to investor profits, which would lower rates. In short, our system of having the PSC regulate monopoly IOUs is not inherently bad. We need to tweak the system to benefit the people rather than corporate profits.
The elected PSC currently lacks professionalism and competence. Commissioners should have the ability and background to understand the utility providers’ financials as well as energy policy in general. The elective process is not reaching a poll of candidates with appropriate competency and non-partisanship.
Commissioners should have to apply for the job, not be elected.
7. Do you support the right to privacy for all healthcare decisions?
8. Do you feel we need a Constitutional Convention to overhaul the 1972 Montana State Constitution, and if so, why?
9. What incentives would you advocate for increasing the adoption of consumer and commercial solar, wind, and geothermal power generation?
I’m not prepared to make specific suggestions of incentives. We should build on the success of C-PACE and renew efforts to pass residential PACE. We should remove regulations that restrict development of Community Solar projects, and incentivize their adoption. We should explore enacting on-bill tariffed financing for appropriate technology improvements to residential properties. We should close the “capital gains tax credit” tax loophole and use the $49 m in savings on creating an Office of Appropriate Technology, to educate and assist regular Montanans in saving money on their power bills.
10. What strategies would you employ at the state level to ensure that the allotment of wild game hunting tags remains open and fair to Montana taxpayers?
This is not my area of expertise. The role of politicians in setting rules and regulations for the management of fish and wildlife in our state is to weigh in on why it is that we, as a state, manage hunting; what our goals are.
We should then be conveying those goals clearly and concisely to the agencies shared with carrying out or overarching plan, but not micromanaging.
Candidate photo courtesy of Jasmine Krotkov 4 MT.
Categories: Montana Legislature