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HawkHD90Lehman

HawkHD90Lehman

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Published by NDW427
Profile of Rep. Ray Hawk, candidate HD 90, Montana
Profile of Rep. Ray Hawk, candidate HD 90, Montana

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Published by: NDW427 on Oct 15, 2008
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06/16/2009

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Editor’s note:
The following story was written by students in Professor Nadia White’s PublicAffairs Reporting class at the University of Montana. You are free to share or publish this storyprovided you retain the reporter byline. Questions? Email nadia.white@umontana.edu.
Hawk backs lower taxes, strong property rights in HD90
 By Kyle Lehman
Ray Hawk is running for reelection on the same platform of reducing taxes and protecting private property rights that has won him his previous three terms representing HouseDistrict 90 in the Montana House of Representatives.During Hawk’s time in the House he has established himself as a reliable promoter of what he describes as the conservative principles of lower taxes and smaller government.Hawk’s voting record has won him the support of several small business and industryorganizations but drawn criticism from some for his stances on environmental issues andeducation.Hawk faces challenger Democrat Yvonne Gritzner in the race to represent the Bitterrootdistrict that includes Florence and Stevensville.If elected to serve a fourth term, Hawk says that one of his most important issues will beeliminating Montana’s business equipment tax, which he says unfairly burdens the state’s businesses. Hawk used the example of a contractor who must pay tax on any machineryhe purchases for his business.“Every year he has to pay three percent of what they’re worth, pretty soon he has paid for 
 
it again just in taxes,” he said. “We are the only state in this region with a businessequipment tax.”According to Hawk, this tax makes businesses avoid Montana in favor of neighboringstates, resulting in the loss to the state of potential employers.Hawk recognizes that any reduction in taxes will mean an equal reduction in state funds,and he aims to compensate by auditing the state budget and doing away with unnecessary programs.“(We) hope to have a study to give us some ideas on what state programs could beeliminated, and there’s quite a few of them,” Hawk said, although he wouldn’t suggestany specific programs yet.Hawk counts small business owners as some of his most important supporters and creditshis work to lower taxes and improve the state’s business environment as primary reasonsfor their support. Ellen Simpson of the Montana Wood Products Association said that her organization weighs a candidate’s record on a variety of such issues before choosingwhom they endorse.“We try to support incumbents like Hawk who have represented our issues in the past,”she said.
 
Simpson said Hawk has supported what she called a positive business climate and thereasonable taxation of businesses.The building industry also supports Hawk. Dustin Stewart of the Montana BuildingIndustry Association said that his organization contributed to Hawks campaign becauseHawk has been willing to consider their views and represent the issues they findimportant in the past.“We do work closely with Ray Hawk,” he said. “He sticks up for affordable housing andsmall businesses.”Hawk faces opposition from the state’s teachers.Eric Feaver, president of the Montana Education Association-Montana Federation of Teachers is a vocal critic of the House Appropriations Committee, which Hawk servedon. Feaver said committee action cost K-12 education some 10 million to 20 milliondollars out of last year’s budget. Feaver noted that Hawk’s Project Vote Smart rating, anon-partisan rating of how a candidate represented certain issues is a seven out of 100 onissues important to teachers in Montana.“If he has a seven [rating] then he’s down there with about three or four other guys, aseven is ridiculous,” he said. “You’ve almost got to go out of your way to get a seven.”

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