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Tough economic and environmental balance for next Wisconsin 98th Assemblyman

Prudent and Farrow disagree over mining bill

Oct. 17, 2012

Political newcomer Eric Prudent (D) is challenging incumbent Paul Farrow (R) for the 98th Assembly seat. One stark contrast between the two candidates - balancing economic issues with environmental issues - may be informed by their work outside Madison.

Prudent is employed by the Fund for the Public Interest, which assists in fundraising efforts for such organizations as Wisconsin Environment and WISPIRG, and he believes the environmental costs behind a potential mining bill are too high. On the other hand, Farrow owns his own business and has inspected homes since 2002, so he believes the next Legislature needs to address the regulatory process for small businesses, especially with the DNR (Department of Natural Resources) and DOT (Department of Transportation).

Q How do you feel about another potential iron mining bill?

Prudent: The last mining bill proposed by the Legislature would have caused irreparable damage to the environment, which we simply cannot afford. Until there is a proposal that provides adequate protections to the environment, the small number of (mostly out-of-state) jobs created is just not worth the environmental costs.

Farrow: A potential iron ore mine is a tremendous opportunity for Wisconsin. Not only would a mine bring jobs and economic development to the northern part of the state, but also right here in Southeastern Wisconsin for the manufacturers who produce mining equipment. We must bring greater certainty to the permitting process.

Q How would small businesses benefit under your leadership?

Prudent: I want to close corporate tax loopholes (for large corporations) and level the playing field so that small businesses can thrive. I support tax incentives to small businesses that are directly tied to the creation of quality jobs that can sustain a family.

Farrow: Too often, our businesses are at a competitive disadvantage because of burdensome regulations. We must give more certainty to job creators by streamlining the regulatory process, including at the DNR and DOT. I will continue to stand for pro-growth policies that will allow our workforce to thrive.

Q What's the first step to getting the economy on track?

Prudent: Supporting small businesses, cutting corporate welfare and investing in unexplored alternative energies will help get our economy on track. Following this plan will create an economic boom in Wisconsin that will position us for a future of economic success.

Farrow: There is no question, our focus must be on jobs and putting more of our citizens back to work. My colleagues and I on the Governor's Council on Workforce Readiness have been working to address the skills gap, so that our future graduates can remain in Wisconsin and grow our state.

Q How would you promote the spirit of bipartisanship in the state?

Prudent: "Bipartisanship" is not in my opponent Paul Farrow's vocabulary. While he has voted strictly party lines 99.9 percent of the time (768 of 769 votes), I understand that true progress lies in compromise.

Farrow: The media has created a perception that the legislative process is contentious, when in reality over 90 percent of bills passed this session had bipartisan support. I will continue to fight for the values of my constituents and keep turning Wisconsin in the right direction, even when it's controversial.

Q How does Act 10 hurt or help educators in Wisconsin?

Prudent: Collective bargaining and other workers' rights were forged here in Wisconsin, and have given educators security for them and their families. Stripping those rights under the guise of balancing the budget was a partisan power play, and has yielded uncertainty for tens of thousands of Wisconsin educators.

Farrow: Act 10 allows the entire education system - principals, school boards, and teachers - the freedom of acting in the best interests of the student. Educators now have the ability to be recognized and rewarded for exceptional ability and results, rather than subjected to onerous union requirements and arbitrary seniority rules.

Q How would you improve education for Wisconsin?

Prudent: Cutting $1.1 billion from public education from the current budget is moving Wisconsin in the wrong direction. By removing the statewide property tax freeze, I want to give local communities the flexibility required to provide a strong Wisconsin education in our public schools.

Farrow: Wisconsin has a long history of being a leading force in education. Both our school choice programs and technical college systems have been a model for the country. I will continue to support policies that increase accountability in our schools, and empower parents to make the best decisions for their own children.

Eric PrudentEric Prudent

Age: 24

Home: Waukesha

Previous offices held: None

Education: Bachelor's degree in biochemistry, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2012

Paul FarrowPaul Farrow

Age: 48

Home: Pewaukee

Previous offices held: 98th State Assembly representative since 2010, up for re-election

Education: Business administration from Carroll College, 1991

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