Name: Chuck Hufstetler
Occupation: Anesthetist at Redmond HCA Hospital
What qualifications do you bring to this office?
Having a background of being a corporate executive, business owner, health care worker, and county commissioner for eight years as well as my eight years in the Senate has given me a broad range of knowledge and skills. Having been a local official and understanding the tough job they have makes me look out for them in every bill considered at the Capitol. As Finance Chair I am at the table of every major discussion in state government and can look out for my district.
What are your state budget priorities?
This budget will be like no other I have seen in my 16 years of local and state government. A hidden virus has brought Georgia from the lowest unemployment in history to potentially the highest. While we have a record rainy day fund balance, we have been hit with a tsunami. Tough decisions will have to be made. Looking out for Georgia long term will be key and I and many others are looking at all revenue and expenses possible. We must continue to invest in education and infrastructure despite the revenue drop we will see.
Name some important issues you'd like to address?
The surprise health billing issue which devastates families, needs one more vote to pass. Having a healthy educated workforce is the key to long term success for Georgia and I will continue to focus on these areas. Last year we passed more health care bills (21) in Georgia’s history but there is still much work to be done. In Finance we are now making tax credits pass a data-driven analysis and will help Georgia to not waste money on programs that don’t have a return on investment.
What changes should the state make in light of the coronavirus threat?
Being the only senator who actually works with COVID-19 patients in critical care gives me a perspective that is hands on. As part of the governor’s task force, we are making changes to protect our state. Not having seen a pandemic in over 100 years meant a quick learning curve was needed. We finally are at the point where anyone can get a test. We will need better data, quicker testing and data tracing to protect the health of our citizens and our economy. Rome has been recognized statewide for flattening the curve and Georgia should follow our example.
How important is bipartisanship to you and why?
I share an office suite with a Democrat (female African American) on purpose. I was advocating for Medicaid waivers five years ahead of my party voting for it last year, as well as equal rights (Texas did it and there are no problems from it). Unlike Washington, we go to dinner together and trust each other. I have a record as a strong fiscal conservative but I know neither party is right all the time. I listen to both sides and vote based on what I believe. The best solutions are almost always bipartisan.