31st candidates disagree on health care, taxes
Republican incumbent Steve Nass said the state Legislature needs to "get a backbone" and take back its law-making power, which it "shamefully" turned over to departmental bureaucrats.
Democratic challenger Frank E. Urban would probably agree; in fact he'd take it a step further: "No one's doing anything in Madison," he said. "No one's talking about the issues … The government is not working. It's broken."
The 56-year-old state representative from LaGrange Township and the 73-year-old retired registered nurse from rural Dousman are candidates for the 31st Assembly District, which includes parts of Walworth, Jefferson and Waukesha counties.
If there's one point on which Nass and Urban disagree it's health care.
Nass believes the private sector should be left to provide health insurance, not the government.
He's opposed to Healthy Wisconsin, a plan the Senate Democrats proposed last legislative session to provide universal health insurance coverage.
"It's very expensive and would wipe out any private insurance people already have," he said. "We don't need that."
Nass said such a plan might be necessary in a state where a significant portion of the population is without insurance, but not in Wisconsin. Most people here have health insurance, he said.
He instead proposes transparency so patients can compare costs as they would when shopping for other necessities. He said transparency would make health care providers compete, driving down costs.
But Urban said the private sector isn't adequately providing health insurance and it's up to the government to come up with a plan that makes health care affordable to all residents.
"The free market had its chance for years and years, and it's not working," he said. "People need better coverage. Nobody in Wisconsin should wake up and be afraid they're going to lose their insurance because they can't afford it.
Urban said Healthy Wisconsin isn't perfect, but it's a place to start.
"It's a decent idea, but it carries a high price tag," he said. "I think that we probably can do better. Nobody has the magic bullet, but we have to propose some kind of program … to cover everybody."
Spending and taxes
Nass said the biggest difference between he and Urban is their positions on government spending and taxes.
He said a $1.6 billion budget deficit is looming over the state because the state has been "spending beyond its means."
But increasing fees and taxes isn't the right way to balance the budget, Nass said.
"The public cannot afford that any more, especially as we may be headed into a recession," he said. "The last thing you want to do is raise taxes and drive the economy into the doldrums."
Urban agrees the Legislature needs to hold the line on taxes, but he said it shouldn't be giving tax breaks to corporations, which Nass has supported.
"I'm more for the local people, not for the special interests," he said. "(Nass) tries to say he's taking care of average people, but in every budget he leads, he isn't."
Urban said taxes are necessary to fund programs on which people depend.
Address: N8330 Jackson Road, LaGrange Township
Job: Owner of Nass Rentals of Whitewater
Education: Bachelor's degree in political science from UW-Whitewater; master's degree in school business management from UW-Whitewater.
Community service: Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5470; American Legion Post 173; Whitewater Kiwanis Club; National Association of Parliamentarians, Madison unit.
Elected posts: Assembly representative, 1990-present; Whitewater City Council, 1977-1981.
Frank E. Urban
Address: W277 Northey Road, Dousman.
Job: Retired registered nurse
Education: Three-year registered nursing diploma; bachelor's degree in political science from UW-Milwaukee; graduate credits in health care administration from Cardinal Stritch University.
Community service: Volunteer for the Fun Friday program for children and adults with special needs at the YMCA at Pabst Farms in Oconomowoc; volunteer at the Rock River Free Clinic in Jefferson.
Elected posts: None