Election Preview: Wisconsin 97th State Assembly District
Republican incumbent Bill Kramer is opposed by software developer Marga Krumins.
Kramer, 47, is a lawyer and accountant. He was previously a member of the Waukesha County Board and is the owner of Kramer Financial Management. In 2011, he was chosen as speaker pro tempore of the Assembly, overseeing floor debate.
Kramer was first elected to the Assembly in 2006 and said he deserves another term because he has done what he always said he would do and the state is on the right path since reforms were put through during the last legislative session.
"We've got to continue to make this state more competitive with our neighbors, with the rest of the country and the world," he said. "And it all comes down to our tax environment, our regulation environment and our litigation environment."
If re-elected, Kramer said he wants put more work into state regulations and how they're enforced. He said this doesn't necessarily mean eliminating regulations, but making sure rules don't change for businesses that make long term investments in the state.
"I just think that if you look at how Wisconsin is doing compared to our neighbors and the rest of the country, you can see a difference," he said. "So, I think we're headed in the right direction, but we have a lot more work to do."
Krumis says it's time for new approach
Democratic challenger Krumins, 53, is a software developer who lives in Waukesha. She is an Army veteran, who has held jobs ranging from horse barn manager to punch press operator.
Krumins said she decided to run for Assembly because she didn't like the legislative course the state took the past two years.
"I would be the person who would be the most responsive to people of all parties and taking into account their views," she said.
If elected, Krumins said she would work to lower taxes for middle-class residents while closing corporate tax loopholes and taxing the highest tax bracket to make sure the state would maintain revenue.
Kramer said there isn't a need to expand Act 10 further during the next legislative session because leaders need to see what issues have come up due to the law changes so they can be addressed.
Krumins doesn't favor the collective bargaining changes ushered in with Act 10 and she would favor a full repeal of the law.
School funding debated
Although some school districts are calling for a restoration of state aid in the next state budget, Kramer said he isn't sold on the idea because Waukesha School District leaders have told him they're more than happy with the changes made by Act 10 and they have been able to make up for the losses in state aid.
"I'm not sure that more money is the answer to the problem," Kramer said. "I mean, the school district that spends the most per capita is probably not our best performing in the state."
Kramer said he's also open to discuss changes to the state's secondary education system as well because tuition increases have grown faster than state residents ability to pay, but adding more student aid and student loan subsidies only adds to future tuition increases by influencing the demand curve.
If elected, Krumins said she would like to help the public education system, saying she doesn't favor the voucher program because it skims money off the top of public education funds in order to provide a private school alternative as opposed to creating a public school alternative.
"We had a good budget going, as far as education," Krumins said. "It was very unfortunate that with the last budget we did something very untraditional by slashing the education budget."
Krumins said she needs to study the issues of post-secondary education needs, but she would be willing to look at a tuition freeze for college students.
"Essentially we want to make sure we're not pricing our own residents out," she said.
Different views on Voter ID law
Kramer said he would like to see the Voter ID law make its way through the court system before taking up new legislation because the state's law is patterned after a Voter ID law enacted in Indiana, which was found constitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court.
However, if the law is struck down, Kramer said it will come back again next year.
"I've always though we should do it as a constitutional amendment," he said. "I don't know if I expect it to come forward, but I wouldn't be surprised if it does get introduced."
Krumins said she opposes the Voter ID law as it stands, saying she will work to repeal the law.
"It puts an undo hardship on our seniors and those living in the inner cities that use public transportation and people in rural areas where DMVs a very rarely open and are long drives when they are," she said. "And students would potentially have to keep getting new IDs if they're changing addresses every semester."
District has a new look
The 97th District seat has new boundaries this year in the wake of redistricting prompted by population shifts in the 2010 census. The district now encompasses portions of Waukesha and Mukwonago. (See map)
Wisconsin state representatives serve two-year terms and earn $49,943 annually. They also receive a per diem of $88 per day for each day they work in Madison.