Republican Gubernatorial candidate Ken Miller touts firm conservative principles, independence and an ability to work across the aisle as qualities that make him stand out in the G-O-P primary race.
Miller says Montana’s constitutional clause saying that all are entitled to a clean and healthy environment is too vague- the only ones defining what that means right now are judges as lawsuits come before them.
“We need to change the constitution so that it specifies who defines what a clean and healthy environment is, and what that means exactly with some common sense,” Miller said. “There’s a number of things that we need to do, all of which are going to take that knowledge and that strong backbone to stand up and get the job done.”
Miller said counties across the state have the ability to develop different natural resources from oil to natural gas to timber and metals, and this development would lead to lower taxes. He said development of oil and gas in places like along the Rocky Mountain front can be done responsibly.
“The days of… you know, tearing up landscapes and polluted land and water are gone. We have the technology, we have the knowledge, we have the desire to do it properly with common sense, and we need to do that all across the state of Montana,” Miller said.
He said the state’s piece of the Baaken Oil field has plenty of potential, some of its development waiting for the right technology, but he says the biggest hurdle is the state’s attitude, “I talk to industry people all the time and they all repeat ‘you don’t want us in Montana, you make us jump a lot of hoops, you make it much more difficult, we have to deal with your workers comp, we have to deal with your business equipment tax, and then you tie that all in with some of your formations are more difficult to get the oil out of- that’s why we’re not there.”
Miller advocates eliminating the business equipment tax altogether, and reforming what he calls the core problems in the state’s workers compensation program.
He said legislative changes to workers comp last session tweaked it, but it needs to be rewritten. Cuts in these places he said would get made up through funds generated from natural resource development.
“We actually own, at Otter Creek coal, it’s billions of dollars that Montanans own, and if we start extracting it, we could easily replace those taxes that I talked about,” Miller said. “Much of the Baaken Oil is on state land; one section in every township or one in every 36 sections is state-owned land, and so the revenues from that is incredible what we could be enjoying.”
Miller would like to see more options for funding K-thourgh-12 education like tax breaks for home school and private school, and to take a look at charter school options other states have pursued. He said he disagrees with the way the University system’s Board of Regents has spent money with too much going to administrative salaries.
Miller said his son just graduated with a mechanical engineering degree and his daughter is working towards a business degree in Bozeman.
“I know too well, and firsthand the cost of tuition and what’s happening in our Universitiy System, and right now under the current system of the Board of Regents, there’s not a lot of accountability to the students, the parent, or the tax payers,” Miller said.
Millers stance on social issues lines up with the Republican platform defining marriage as between a man and a woman, and pro-life.
His background includes time serving in the state legislature in the 19-90’s representing the Laurel area – a place he describes as a Democrat district, “I find that Montanans support conservative values all across the state; Republicans, Democrats, and Independents, and so I bring that experience of serving in a Democrat district with a lot of Democrat support to the table- knowing how to work with them, that legislative experience, and none of the other candidates have that.”