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Steineke, Lederer running for the 5th

By Press Times Staff

Incumbent Jim Steineke will face off against Matt Lederer on Nov. 6, for the right to represent the 5th Assembly District.

Steineke has held the office since winning the seat in 2010. Prior to that he worked as a town supervisor, town chairman and Outagamie County supervisor. He was also a realtor.

Lederer has worked as a chiropractor and high school science teacher.

The 5th Assembly District is made up of parts of Outagamie and Brown counties including parts of the villages of Hobart and Howard and the city of Kaukauna.

Name: Jim Steineke

Party: Republican

Hometown: Kaukauna

Immediate family: Wife and three kids

Occupation: State Representative

Why should people vote for you?

I’m proud to run on our accomplishments of the last eight years.
When I decided to run, I did so because Wisconsin was in pretty tough shape. Unemployment was over 9 percent, deficits were skyrocketing, taxes were constantly being raised and people were struggling just to make ends meet.

Fast forward to this year and one can see the tremendous turnaround we have been experiencing. We have the lowest unemployment rate in state history, budget surpluses every year, lower tax burden today than we had in 2010 and that’s really just the beginning of the good news.

Our public schools, because of our reforms, were given a historic level of funding in the last budget.

Our welfare system has also been further reformed, ensuring that those that are able to work have the necessary motivation to do so.

Personally, I’ve been a legislator that isn’t afraid to take on big issues and work across the aisle to get things done.

My primary focus as a legislator has been on bills that enhance crime victims’ rights, streamline government to make it more efficient and responsive to its citizens, help our homeless population get the assistance they need to become independent and reinvigorate our sporting heritage to recruit and retain new generations of sportsmen and women.

Beyond that, I’ve been entrusted by my colleagues to serve as the Majority Leader for the State Assembly the last two terms.

It’s an honor I don’t take lightly, and believe it further helps me serve my constituents in ways that I couldn’t if I were not in leadership.

What is the single biggest issue facing Wisconsin?

Even with all of this progress, there are many issues we still need to resolve here in the state. Making sure health care is more affordable, finding innovative ways to train our kids for the careers of the future by investing more in education and solving our long-term funding challenges for our infrastructure.

Health care costs, though, are probably one of the issues I know people struggle the most with.

The more hard-earned money people spend on basic health needs, the less they have to provide for their families and secure their future.

When the Affordable Care Act was signed into law, we all were told that it would not only increase access, but it would also reduce premiums.

Only half of that was true. It did increase access for some, but it did nothing to help curtail costs. It also drove some providers completely out of the individual market.

When families face double-digit increases in health care premiums each year, there is a level of uncertainty that has a chilling effect on their ability to plan for the future.

That’s why I was proud to join Gov. Walker in passing the reinsurance program we did in this last session that is already proving to have some valuable benefits.

Not only are we not seeing those double-digit increases in premiums for next year, we’re actually expecting an average 4 percent reduction statewide for 2019. In fact, for those in Brown County, the expected reduction is going to be near 30 percent. That’s significant progress.

What are your views on what’s known as the dark store loophole? If it’s not a problem, why? If it is, what will you do to close it?

I support the legislative council’s study on the dark store issue and am hopeful that compromise legislation can be developed that will help ensure a thriving brick and mortar economy while protecting our residential property taxpayers.

We were very close to passing a bill to address this issue last session, but unfortunately we couldn’t get it done. I’m confident that next session will provide an opportunity to change that.

What should Wisconsin do to ensure funding on the state level is available to repair roads?

Wisconsin needs to broaden its base of funding for transportation.

Our current model relies too heavily on the gas tax, which is not keeping up with costs due to the increasing number of hybrids and electric vehicles on the roadways.

We have focused initially on reducing costs to save taxpayer dollars wherever we can.

Now we need to prioritize projects and modernize our revenue stream.

How would you like to see K-12 education funded in Wisconsin?

My goal for education funding would be to get back to the point where public education is funded at a level equal to two-thirds of the cost.

We have made progress in that area. Although some cuts to public education were made in 2011 because of the recession, each budget since has seen increases in state funding to our public schools.

As revenues have allowed us, we have invested more dollars into the classrooms.

In fact, in this last budge,t we added more than $8,000 of new revenue into the average classroom.

We also need to modernize the school funding formula, because too often we are seeing schools with declining enrollment struggling to provide the basic needs for their students.

Rep. Joel Kitchens has been given the task of bringing experts together from around the state to figure out a long-term solution to this troubling dilemma.

Name: Matt Lederer

Party: Democratic

Hometown: Town of Center

Immediate family: Lora, wife, Eva and Clara, daughters

Occupation: Former chiropractor, licensed science teacher, stay-at-home dad

Why should people vote for you?

Like so many voters, I’ve grown frustrated by what I’ve seen coming out of Madison, and I’m ready to do something about it.

Current GOP politicians, including my opponent, are not listening to the voters because they’ve drawn gerrymandered maps to keep themselves in safe districts. That means they don’t have to listen to viewpoints in the middle or on the other side of the aisle, which just increases extreme positions and partisanship.

On top of that, there is so much outside money pouring into their campaigns that they are beholden to corporate special interests instead of us. This isn’t right, and it’s not healthy for our democracy.

Unlike my opponent, I’m not accepting corporate PAC money, because I intend to work for the people of Wisconsin, not corporate interests. And I will fight to have district maps drawn by non-partisan committees, much like they do in Iowa, so that lines aren’t drawn by whichever party happens to find itself in power at the time.

When the two parties are forced to listen to one another and their constituents, it will be easier to solve the problems that our district is facing, like lack of access to affordable health care, underfunded public schools, crumbling roads and pollution of our groundwater.

In short, people should vote for me because I will be a voice for the people and will embrace laws and policies that encourage bipartisanship and cooperation to solve the problems real people are facing in our district.

What is the single biggest issue facing Wisconsin?

Health care is the single biggest issue facing Wisconsin.

I recently participated in a health care forum, where I heard from many participants about their struggles accessing affordable health care.

Issues raised included the lack of a comprehensive approach to mental illness and substance abuse treatment, the cost and quality of long-term care and home care, insurance coverage for pre-existing conditions and state-based solutions to coverage, like expanding BadgerCare.

I’ve also been knocking on thousands of doors all over the district and talking to voters, and their top concern is, by far, affordable health care.

It is clear that our healthcare system needs an overhaul, and there are several steps we can take right away to achieve this.

The first step we need to take is to accept the federal funds available to expand BadgerCare. This would allow at least 80,000 Wisconsinites to access health care who otherwise cannot afford it, and it would save the state money, too.

Also, based on Minnesota’s experience with accepting these federal funds, it is likely to bring down the cost of health insurance across the state due to the introduction of new competition. My opponent supported the decision to turn down this funding. That has proven to be a mistake.

The second step we should take is to hold pharmaceutical companies to account for price hikes.

I support the creation of a consumer watchdog to review any increases in drug prices by pharmaceutical companies and to stop price gouging.

A third step we should take is to withdraw from the federal lawsuit that seeks to undo protections granted by the ACA.

These protections, like pre-existing condition coverage, mental health and substance abuse coverage, prescription drug coverage (including birth control) and pediatric care, are vital. No one in this state should have to go bankrupt because they get sick, and fundraisers and donation websites shouldn’t be our go-to sources for health care funding.

Clearly, affordable health care is the single biggest issue facing Wisconsin right now, and as your State Assembly Representative, I intend to work to ensure every person in Wisconsin has access to health care they can afford.

What are your views on what’s known as the dark store loophole? If it’s not a problem, why? If it is, what will you do to close it?

Due to the current dark store loophole, large retailers in this state can pay property taxes on their active and profitable stores equivalent to that paid by another retailer for a vacant store.

This loophole lets large corporations avoid their fair share of property taxes, shifting the tax burden to local homeowners and small businesses. We need to close this loophole.

Both parties appear to be in agreement on this issue, and in fact, legislation to close this loophole was presented and would have passed in the last legislative session if GOP leadership had listened to voters. Instead, they killed their own bill – one that would have passed with bipartisan support – because their corporate donors told them to.

Now that elections are coming up, they are spreading the message that they are championing the very bill they prevented from getting to a vote.

As someone new to politics, I find these kinds of political games unacceptable.

As a result of the GOP’s decision to kill this bill, local property taxpayers are stuck making up the difference for what large retail chains should have paid. This is the kind of outcome we see when big corporate money gets paid to politicians.

Since I’m not accepting corporate PAC money, I’m not beholden to multinational corporations. Instead, I intend to vote for what’s best for my constituents by closing the dark store loophole.

What should Wisconsin do to ensure funding on the state level is available to repair roads?

Certainly the answer is going to be complicated, but it’s clear that what the current GOP leadership has been doing for the last eight years isn’t working.

They’ve been so afraid of doing the right thing that now we’re stuck with crumbling roads, outdated bridges, and some big decisions to make. But it’s clear that we need well-maintained infrastructure for the safety of our residents, to attract business and industry, and to avoid the kinds of major, expensive overhauls we now face.

We need to keep all funding options on the table, including indexing the gas tax, modest increases in vehicle registration costs, and looking to other state funds to contribute toward infrastructure.

We need to consider the pros and cons of each of these options and make decisions from there. Repairing and maintaining our roads will be costly, but fortunately, these sorts of infrastructure projects create good, family-supporting jobs for Wisconsin workers. And, if roads are properly maintained, the cost will be lower over time than it is when the roads are left to crumble and then need to be replaced completely.

As a homeowner, I know it’s better for the pocketbook to fix problems when they come up rather than waiting for those problems to multiply.

If the state legislature would treat our transportation system with the same common sense, we would save a lot of taxpayer money in the long run. Instead, due to poor budgeting, the state has been borrowing money in order to pay the expenses of fixing our roads.

Now more and more of our money is going to interest payments instead of actually fixing roads.

In the end, the current GOP leadership has mismanaged this issue for years in the hope that someone else will take care of it. Well, I’m ready to take care of it with smarter budgeting and careful consideration of all options to raise the necessary funds to do the job right.

How would you like to see K-12 education funded in Wisconsin?

It is the state’s constitutionally-mandated role to provide high-quality public schools that are available to all taxpayers and that provide services for children of all levels of need.

For generations, Wisconsin public schools were some of the best in the nation. We were a magnet for new, talented teachers, and our student achievement was excellent.

However, that took a drastic turn when my opponent and other GOP leadership decided to make huge cuts to our public education system.

Now, our schools are underfunded. Class sizes are ballooning and support staff and special education services are dwindling. Teacher pay has been stagnant for years and their benefits have been slashed.

As a result, we are facing an upcoming teacher shortage – there are not enough students in college teaching programs to fill upcoming retirements.

Teachers are leaving the profession at a high rate, and instead of Wisconsin being a magnet, we are bleeding recent graduates to neighboring states.

Members of the GOP have finally returned a portion of their huge education cuts now that they are facing tough races.

But this increased funding still doesn’t cover basic increases in costs due to inflation, and a good portion of the money is being diverted to private schools via the voucher program. That’s wrong, and it’s something we need to address.

We need to keep our public dollars in public schools. We simply cannot afford to fund two parallel school systems. And we need to reverse course and make sure our schools are properly funded so that all of our children can receive the quality education they deserve.

That’s why I support returning to the funding formula in which two-thirds of the cost of public schools is paid by the state. This reduces the burden on local property owners, who have been asked to cover the shortfall created by the lack of state funding. And, it would provide a more equitable distribution of funds, helping our rural school districts and our school districts where incomes and property values are below average for the state.

High-quality public schools attract business, industry and young professionals to our state, leading to a stronger economy and more quality job opportunities for everyone.

It’s time to get back to our Wisconsin roots of excellent, efficient and cost-effective public education.

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