- Associated Press - Friday, September 12, 2014

HELENA, Mont. (AP) - The Montana U.S. House candidates continued policy-based campaigning this week with Republican candidate Ryan Zinke releasing a plan on education and Democratic candidate John Lewis outlining a plan to reduce the federal debt. Here’s a look at the week’s most interesting and important developments in Montana’s election campaigns.

ZINKE ANNOUNCES EDUCATION PLAN

Republican U.S. House candidate Ryan Zinke laid out a five-point plan for education Friday, which calls for broader and more flexible federal standards, expanded support for rural schools, increased access to technology, support for federal research and development grants, and helping families facing economic hardship by working to build a stronger economy.

The plan emphasizes local control and flexibility, Zinke said, and he’d like to remove the “adequate yearly progress” mandate among other regulations that he said result in teaching to the test, not to the student.

Zinke also said he’d work to help struggling families and homeless school-age children at least in part by abandoning the Affordable Care Act because he says it costs businesses money and gives incentives to keep work weeks below 40 hours. He’d also work to increase jobs through natural resource development.

Although opponent John Lewis’ spokeswoman Kathy Weber didn’t directly comment on Zinke’s plan, she said Lewis is supportive of students from Head Start to college, and he wants to work to make college more affordable. The Montana Education Association and the Montana Federation of Teachers have endorsed Lewis.

“Unfortunately, instead of putting Montana’s students and teachers first, Zinke is more interested in protecting the perks enjoyed by the out-of-state interests bankrolling his campaign,” she said.

LEWIS ANNOUNCES DEBT REDUCTION PLAN

Lewis outlined a five-point plan this week aimed at reducing federal debt. He proposed selling unused government property, which he said includes nearly 800,000 government buildings and 600,000 vehicles. He’d also rid government of outdated and duplicative programs and agencies and cited a 2014 report identifying 15 new such opportunities.

He’d encourage multinational corporations to close offshore accounts by giving them incentives to buy bonds in the U.S. for building roads and supporting energy and water projects. Lewis also wants to reform the tax code to lower rates and remove subsidies, including one that covers moving expenses incurred by companies when sending jobs and facilities overseas.

Additionally, he called for members of Congress to take a 10 percent pay cut and proposed that they should not get a pay raise until they balance the budget.

“Montanans won’t take John Lewis’ budget plan seriously because he was a top staffer to the chief architect of Obamacare - the president’s trillion-dollar failed health care law,” Zinke campaign spokeswoman Shelby DeMars said.


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