Austin Knudsen (R)
Family: Wife, Christie; three children ages 10, 7, and 5
Education: Bachelor's degree, Montana State University; JD, University of Montana School of Law
Past employment: O’Toole Law Firm, Plentywood
Political experience: Served three terms (2011-2015) in Montana House of Representatives; elected Speaker Pro Tempore in 2013; elected Speaker of the House in 2015.
Online campaign info:
Twitter account: @RepKnudsen
Facebook page: Austin Knudsen for Montana
Ways voters can contact you:
Address: P.O. Box 624, Culbertson, Mont., 59218
Phone number: 406-539-4268
1. For the last three sessions, Montana government has had excess surplus money largely due to taxes from coal mining and oil production. Now, both of those industries are being choked to death by environmentalist policies. As a result, revenue projections for state government are bleak. The 2017 Legislature will have no choice but to cut certain government services and programs. In the long term, tax relief is the best way to get out of this economic rut. It has been proven that lowering taxes on people and business generates more tax revenue, as it incentivizes savings and job creation
2. Colstrip 1 and 2 shutting down is a market reaction to federal government regulation and the Obama administration’s war on coal, as well as a customer (the state of Washington) choosing not to purchase any more coal-fired electricity from Montana. While I do not agree with Washington’s decision and consider it based on radical environmentalist sentiments, it is nevertheless Washington’s right to choose what type of power it wants to purchase. Penalizing the owner of Colstrip 1 and 2, who is simply a victim of a poor consumer decision and endless regulation from the Obama administration, is not the answer.
3. I support the transfer of federal public lands to Montana, for legal reasons. In our state charter, the federal government made a contract promise to relinquish federal lands to Montana. Further, the United States Supreme Court has upheld this state charter language and ruled that the federal government must turn over these lands. Prior to the 1970’s, it had been the federal government’s policy to do so; however Congress reversed this policy and now the federal government refuses to honor its own contract obligations and Supreme Court rulings. Plus, Montana manages its lands better than the federal government, period.
4. Lower individual and business tax rates. Then businesses in Montana could afford to hire more people and pay higher wages, so that women and men would be able to keep more of the money they earn in their pockets and not fund larger and larger state government.
5. Politics kills infrastructure bills. The Bakken oil boom created a massive infrastructure strain in northeast Montana, which the 2013 Legislature addressed by passing HB218 nearly unanimously. Unfortunately, Governor Bullock vetoed the bill. By 2015, oil prices had plummeted and oil revenue from the Bakken had stopped flowing to Helena, even though the infrastructure needs in northeastern Montana remained. The 2015 infrastructure bill became not about helping actual impacted areas, but about legislators trying to get projects in their districts funded. Unfortunately, we’ve killed coal and oil, so the 2017 Legislature won’t have any budget surplus to fund infrastructure.
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