WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAU) — The candidates for the 85th and 86th Assembly districts took questions Monday night from members of the Wausau Area Chamber of Commerce.
One question that all of the candidates answered was from the Executive director for MCDEVCO, Jim Warsaw. Which specific industries do you see as having the most growth potential in your district, and how would you support them?
85th Assembly Candidate Dave Heaton says hes pushing for growth in manufacturing with better funding for technical colleges. We are teaming up with the tech schools. I think that sets the stage for great opportunities for manufacturing, but it also sends a message for the other industries. Its not just manufacturing, we have other industries we want to focus on as well.
Incumbent Mandy Wright says shed like to help the healthcare industry by restoring federal funding under the Affordable Care Act. Its estimated that 10,000 people across the state of Wisconsin would be employed in the healthcare community if we expected the federal expansion funds for the Affordable Care Act.
86th Assembly challenger Mary Stencil agreed with Wright and said it was a growth opportunity for the region. I think we should have accepted the federal monies. I see great potential, theres several hospitals in our area and we can build on that.
Incumbent John Spiros says hed focus on continuing to improve technical education funding for kids and young adults. We put 135 million into the tech schools as far as the Fast Forward program, I think thats important. We need to do the same thing with the high schools and weve done some of that, and we need to basically explain from the lowest level up what other opportunities are there.
Sun Printing sales representative Crystal Sippl asked Wright and Heaton what they would do to improve k-12 education outcomes other than increasing funding for school districts.
Heaton says hed like to see expanded use of alternative schools to help reach kids in need. We want to make sure that were considering all of our options, and we want to make sure that were bringing all the stakeholders to the table to make these decisions: the teachers, the educators and the parents. Especially the parents, who are the ultimate consumer of our education product.
Wright says the funding needed is already there, but that the state needs a better job making sure its going where its needed. Its really important to consider funding and theres only so much we can do. And I truly believe theres fraud, waste, and abuse in our education funding, and if we redirected it where we really needed it we could be far more efficient and safe a lot of money.
Al Radant, owner of Radant Insurance asked Spiros and Stencil what specific piece of legislation they would offer to improve business in the area.
Stencil says shell work to improve small business startup loans. We need to better serve business startups to find a way to fund their businesses so they can grow, because you are actually the backbone of communities.
Spiros says hes working to stop the double taxation of business owners on their business properties. Weve made exemptions for a lot, weve cut this down over the years from 1950 to now. I think its one of those things we have to look at, its one of those things I hear from small businesses from other businesses.
There are several more debates scheduled this week in Wausau. State senator Jerry Petrowski and challenger Paul DeMain meet Tuesday night at 7 pm in a debate for the 29th State Senate race. Republican representative Sean Duffy and challenger Kelly Westlund debate Wednesday night at 7 pm
(You can listen to the debate in our Newsmaker Poscast section by clicking this link!)