My Responses to the Idaho Freedom Foundation Candidate Survey
The K-12 Education budget is the state’s largest by far, yet some people still believe that we are not spending enough. What would you do to help Idaho’s K-12 students receive a stellar education?
We could come closer to a stellar education for students by reducing regulations and irrelevant reports which would allow for a reduction in administrative costs at all levels (state, districts, schools). The savings could be used to recruit and retain the best teachers. We should also encourage higher institutions to collaborate with Idaho schools to create a teacher pipeline and put the same focus on professional/technical job-ready courses as we have in place for college readiness.The most significant factor in student learning is the teacher and a career in education has never been more challenging. We have a good start on building a competitive salary structure. We must recruit and retain a deeper pool of the best of the best. As for accountability measures, ISAT results are artificially low because the test means nothing to many students, the curriculum is not well aligned to what is tested and how it is tested, and student mobility rate and lack of attendance is not under the teacher’s control.
Graduation rates at Idaho’s four-year universities are stagnant while tuition continues to increase (with the exception of the one-year tuition freeze). What would you do to bring down the cost of higher education and help students graduate with less debt?
Universities, colleges, and high schools continually increase course offerings to meet the interests of students. Our current economy will push for prioritization of what is essential for the wellbeing of the citizenry on a state and national level. K-12 should prepare all students for college as an option, but not all students need or desire a 4-year college degree. Trade and professional technical programs are critical, not second rate educational opportunities. Given the current economic reality, the required conversation centers around determining what is essential and what is “nice to have” and then to fund what is essential.
Idaho has both an income tax and sales tax, while five of our six neighbors have only one or the other. Idaho also has high property taxes. What changes do you suggest, if any, to Idaho’s state tax structure?
The Idaho Constitution requires taxation to provide revenue and the provision of a balanced budget. The only way to reduce taxes is to reduce our consumption of government funded services and even then, as the state’s population grows, so grows the need for required state services. We need to determine what essential services the Constitution actually requires, then 1-revisit the Property Tax Reduction (Circuit Breaker) to protect qualifying senior citizens on fixed incomes; 2-review the property tax burden on commercial real estate, agricultural ground, and residential property and determine a reasonable split that doesn’t drive anyone out of business or out of their home; 3-recognize that school supplemental levies are no longer supplemental and that even if the levy rate doesn’t increase, property taxes will rise if property values rise, and multiple elections are creating voter fatigue.
The grocery sales tax has long been debated in Idaho. Should Idaho repeal the tax on groceries? if yes, when?
Given the current state of the economy, the grocery sales tax should be repealed, which, in turn, will require less spending on government-provided services.
Urban renewal districts receive all the increases in property tax revenue within their borders, which forces other property owners to fund increased service requirements. Should Idaho end urban renewal? If not, should state lawmakers change urban renewal law?
The successful renovations in downtown Caldwell suggests that Urban Renewal can serve its intended purpose; however, I would support a much narrower interpretation of how Urban Renewal dollars can be spent. I fully support voting for expenditures over a certain dollar amount to allow taxpayers to determine whether to fund the project or allow funds to come back into the system to reduce property taxes. If the preponderance of constituents in District 10 support ending Urban Renewal, I would vote to end it.
Healthcare is a significant expense in Idaho’s state budget, rivaling education in total appropriations. How would you tackle ever-increasing state Medicaid costs? More broadly, what ideas do you propose to help make quality healthcare more affordable for all?
It is rarely advantageous for the state or federal government to oversee or provide any service, including healthcare. It generally results in too much bureaucracy and ineffective oversight. While on a local hospital board, I appreciated their two-prong approach to 1) provide health education to improve overall health and 2) encourage direct primary care before medical conditions become severe. The intent of the Medicaid Expansion Initiative would be best administered at the local level to ensure that more money funds actual health services than the bureaucracy created to provide distribution and oversight. Allow counties to retain indigent funds and augment those funds with federal dollars provided for Medicaid Expansion that was passed by voters in 2018.
Criminal justice reform has become a partisan issue in recent years. Should Idaho explore further reforms? If so, which reforms would you support?
Idaho prison costs continue to grow as the population increases. The justice reinvestment law currently in place appears to reduce the recidivism rate, so it could be extended as an alternative to prison for nonviolent, low risk offenders. Mandatory minimum sentencing laws would need to be changed and judges would be entrusted with exercising wisdom in sentencing. Expending funds for training on how to get and keep a job, financial literacy, and assistance with job placement through the Dept. of Labor is preferable to building more jails and prisons.
In 2020, Idaho saw some reduction in occupational licensing mandates. Should Idaho continue to identify and implement alternatives to licensure burdens? If yes, which licenses should be reviewed or repealed?
As a rule, the less regulations promulgated by the state and federal government the better; Idaho should continue being the least regulated state. There may be instances when government intervention by regulation could be warranted, such as protecting the very young or elderly.
Federal dollars always come with strings, yet a significant portion of Idaho’s annual state budget is funded with federal money. Should Idaho work to reduce its dependence on federal funding? If yes, how?
Federal money is taxpayer-generated money and comes with strings to force Idaho to spend it as envisioned by someone who doesn’t live here. Idaho should avoid accepting federal dollars that box us into a one-size-fits none corner. As in #3, the only way to reduce spending is to reduce services rendered. What are Idahoans willing to do without?
Education choice allows parents and students to choose the education that best suits their needs. What policies would you support to strengthen education choice in Idaho?
Traditional brick and mortar schools, charter schools, online schools, and homeschooling provide many options for parental choice. I would not support legislation that limits access to any of these options. I would support legislation that allows more flexibility and local control to school boards.
What is the proper role of state government?
The proper role of state government is to protect the individual’s right to life, liberty, and property as expressly stated in the Idaho Constitution.