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Donna M. McAleer

1. Do you believe that all children regardless of their economic status should have access to quality education? If so, what can Congress do to reach this goal?

I'm the mother of a third grade daughter in public school. All children, regardless of economic status should have access to quality education. Study after study has proven that our community, our state, and our nation benefits from a well- educated society-and our students benefit by getting the tools and developing the skills they need to lead successful lives. In short, it's the greatest investment we can and need to make in

our future. Unfortunately, Utah ranks 55th in terms of per student funding for K-12 education. If we include property taxes we are still last in the Nation. We rank lower than Guam, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the Mariana Islands. Mississippi ranks 49th.

In Utah, I believe we need to:

  • Protect Utah's public schools from funding cuts and invest in education in ways to attract and retain high quality teachers without selling our public lands, and providing students the ability to succeed.
  • Prioritize education and prepare our children to compete in a global economy by expanding STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) curriculum. By 2020, two-thirds of Utah's jobs will require technical knowledge and skills.
  • Expand workforce training programs, technical and vocational certifications.
  • Make higher education affordable so it doesn't cripple students with debt before they join the workforce.

2. What is the proper role of corporations in American elections?

Corporations are not people and should not have the same rights as people. They don't breathe, they don't bleed, they don't love, marry, have children, serve in the military, or die for their country. Unfortunately, in too many cases, they don't even pay taxes.

Corporations, unions, associations, and NGO's should be allowed to meet with legislators and explain their needs, but they should not be able to influence politicians by contributions (i.e. bribes) or advertisements for or against candidates.

Since becoming a candidate my belief in the public financing of campaigns has only strengthened. I support the public financing of campaigns with ceilings determined by office level. If all candidate challengers and incumbents had the same amount of funds, perhaps the effective management of those funds would serve as a proxy for fiscal responsibility and management. Most importantly it would enable elected officials to focus on being a legislator. Legislators could truly focus on issues in the best interest of their constituents, not their largest donors. The job I am seeking is to be a legislator, not a telemarketer. We need to return to a "government of the people, by the people, for the people".

3. How would you balance the continuing cost of the military with the cost of domestic needs?

As a veteran-in fact, as the only person with a military background running for any federal office in Utah-this is an issue of particular interest for me. The important thing to know is that our investment in security, done wisely, is also an investment in the domestic economic health of our nation. In other words, despite past "guns or butter" claims, military defense is not bought at the expense of economic health. Now, forgive me for being blunt, but for as much as I wish otherwise- and I do-the world today is still a dangerous place. The post- Cold War "new normal' asymmetric warfare of terrorist and cyber attacks on our troops and business, government, and military computer networks is a threat that is not going away.

While the cost of remaining vigilant in the defense of our nation and its interests will never be cheap, there is still much that can be done. Though it has done commendably in adapting to the new situation, particularly with Special Operations, the Defense Department remains saddled with expensive and budget-busting legacy weapon systems designed for threats that vanished with the collapse of the Soviet Union 21 years ago in 1991. It also maintains a large number of bases around the world. Since 9/11, our intelligence community has grown 150% and includes 14 separate agencies.

We need to reduce wasteful spend, redundancies, inefficiencies and earmarks in both procurement and spending without negatively affecting troop safety, compromising readiness and morale. However, the automatic cuts-known as sequestration-- to the defense budget of $55 billion a year, a top $500 billion going into effect in the next decade will have serious negative impacts on the military and communities surrounding domestic bases.

These automatic cuts and budget reductions are the result of the 2011 Budget Control Act-the agreement reached to increase the national debt ceiling-because a special congressional committee created by the law failed to reach a deal. Our servicemen and servicewomen, and our veterans deserve better than this. They deserve a congressional body and a president who will put partisanship aside and actually do the job for which they were elected.

The House of Representatives is the sole Constitutional authority for appropriations. If elected, I would be a strong advocate to find, reduce, and eliminate excessive costs and redundancies.

Only Congress can authorize war. The last time Congress authorized war was World War II. A fundamental duty of Congress is to approve or say no to the President's war decisions. I take this responsibility seriously. We need to ensure that our military is not used as a substitute for the State Department. As a country we need to pursue national security interests exhausting diplomatic and economic policies before committing our military.

4. Given the Supreme Court's decision on on the Affordable Care Act, what should Congress do next to assure quality healthcare for the American population?

The Affordable Care Act is a move in the right direction. When we talk about health reform there are two distinct issues: access to care (which for the most part ACA has done well) and paying for care (which is still a flawed system under ACA). As with any new program having such a significant impact on our society, it will have to be closely monitored in a non-partisan way that fairly assesses what works and what doesn't, and then pass appropriate legislation fixing shortcomings.

The best parts of the ACA are the clauses that have to do with: "no lifetime limits" on heath insurance (so that people cannot max out with their insurance companies at $1 or $2 million dollars if they have a serious illness or injury), "no pre-existing conditions" so that people can still get insurance if and be covered - even if they have had high blood pressure or breast cancer, children may remain on parent's plan until age 26, and "portability of care" so that people can change insurance companies.

What the plan seriously lacks is any accountability by health insurance companies as to what they are able to charge. For example if you do have any kind of illness or preexisting condition, insurance companies are able to significantly raise your premiums. They just have to insure you.

What Congress should do next is focus on our nation's need for doctors. After all, even the best health care insurance in the world is worthless if there's no doctor available. According to experts, the biggest health care issue we now face is a critical shortage of doctors-as many as 150,000 over the next fifteen years.

But, ask members of any rural community here in Utah, and I'm sure you'll hear them tell you that the shortage already exists- and has existed for years.

The biggest shortage is in primary caregivers-the general practitioners. Sadly, where we have an abundance is in plastic surgeons and dermatologists.

As it takes an average of ten years to train doctors, I would work to implement both short-term and long-term solutions on this issue.

5. What should the federal government do to assure a healthy environment for our children?

My thinking here is that we are actually talking about healthy environments, because there are many involved, all of them linked.

One example is the personal: childhood obesity. It is a major problem in America. Presently between 16 and 33% of children and adolescents in America are obese. The reasons are complex, but two key ones are unhealthy eating habits and a lack of exercise. We need to aggressively work on this problem-educate children and their parents about healthy nutrition and, where necessary, financially assist them in making healthy choices because, unfortunately, "junk" food is cheaper than healthy food.

Another example is the community: we need to expand recreational programs for children and adolescents-programs that also emphasize physical activity, not just competitive efforts. Some organized children's sports leagues already do this. Their experience and models should be studied and lessons learned applied elsewhere. Such programs have additional advantages. They assist in the building of self-esteem, and in poor areas provide a healthy outlet for at risk kids who would otherwise fall prey to gangs and drugs.

Then, there is the natural environment itself: clean air, water, and land. Existing federal laws on these issues must be enforced, and where necessary new ones passed, to make sure that wherever our children live, eat, play, and learn, they can do so without endangering their health.

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