Janesville81.2°

Towns and Hixson differ on economy, health care

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Stacy Vogel
October 23, 2008

If this election is anything like the one two years ago, expect a close race in the 43rd Assembly District.


In 2006, challenger Kim Hixson, a Democrat, beat incumbent Debi Towns, a Republican, by 38 votes.


The candidates will meet again this fall.


Towns said she deserves another term in the Assembly because she has a proven track record of getting things done. She said Hixson has not worked for his constituents in his term.


“It’s been very frustrating to me to see our district not represented up there,” she said.


But Hixson said he’s the best candidate because he listens to all the people in the district.


“I am willing to listen to all sides,” he said. “I am willing to walk down the middle of the aisle if I have to … I truly believe in being a representative of the people that have elected me.”


Economy

Both Hixson and Towns listed the economy as the most important issue in the election.


Hixson said the state should promote its strong workforce and solid educational programs to attract jobs. The state can improve its business climate by simplifying zoning and protecting infrastructure such as transportation. He said he supported border incentive grants that help counties bordering other states, such as Rock County, compete for business.


The state should work to attract green industry, he said. It also should make sure large corporations pay their fair share of taxes to ease tax burdens on individuals.


“They’re using our infrastructure, they’re using our people, and if they’re not paying income taxes, they’re really not giving a lot back,” he said.


Towns said raising business taxes is exactly the opposite of what the state should do.


“We know that taxing people who create jobs is not the answer,” she said.


She said companies often locate in Illinois instead of Wisconsin because Wisconsin has a less attractive business climate.


“The state of Illinois was very willing to work with (companies) on giving the employers and businesses tax credits, tax deductions for creating jobs,” she said. “Wisconsin is less flexible that way … Also Illinois in general has a more attractive income tax structure than Wisconsin’s progressive income tax structure.”


Towns also said the state has a “love affair” with over-regulating business.


Health care

The state can make health care more affordable by giving consumers more choice and making sure residents can carry insurance plans with them when they change jobs, Towns said.


She does not support Healthy Wisconsin, a plan from Senate Democrats to offer universal health insurance.


“The government never does anything more efficiently than the private sector, or very rarely, and they certainly would not run health care more efficiently,” she said.


Hixson also does not support Healthy Wisconsin because it would hurt small business, he said. He said he’s not sure the government should run health care, but maybe it could combine with the private sector to coordinate and run a program.


The important thing is for members of both parties to discuss real solutions to health care costs while staying fiscally responsible, he said.


“One of the things that really frustrated me in my first term in office was that, in the Assembly, we never really discussed health care and what to do about it in any meaningful way,” he said. “By that, I mean the other side of the aisle would not let any health care discussions come up.”


Education

Both Hixson and Towns said the state needs to continue to provide two-thirds of school funding. They agreed the state should reexamine how it divides the funding because the current structure is hurting districts with declining enrollment.


Hixson emphasized the need to keep the state’s university system strong, make college affordable and get more Wisconsin residents to graduate college.


Towns emphasized making sure administrators and state officials are accountable for how education money is spent.


BIOS

Kim Hixson


Age: 51


Address: 327 S. Woodland Drive, Whitewater.


Job: On leave from UW-Whitewater


Education: Doctorate in journalism from Southern Illinois University; master’s degree in professional writing and bachelor’s degree in communication advertising and English from the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga.


Community service: Served on board of directors for Whitewater Community Development Authority and Whitewater Plan Commission


Elected posts: State Assembly, 2006-08; Whitewater City Council, 2004-07.


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Debi Towns


Age: 52


Address: 7930 N. Eagle Road, Janesville (Porter Township).


Job: Owner, family dairy farm; former business manager of Brodhead schools; former financial consultant at the state Department of Public Instruction.


Education: Master’s degree in education from UW-Whitewater; bachelor’s degree in business administration from Cardinal Stritch University; working toward doctorate in education leadership from Cardinal Stritch.


Community service: Edgerton School Board, Fulton Church, 4-H leader, secretary for Fulton Cemetery Association.


Elected positions: State Assembly, 2002-06; Edgerton School Board, 1985-91, 1994-96.



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