Q1. 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?
A student-centered funding formula is an important piece of the picture, accompanied by eliminating: duplicate administrative costs and burdens, costly testing that doesn’t actually provide beneficial feedback to teachers and students, and multi-layer education evaluations– the kind that evaluate the evaluation! Student-centered education options are also important. Early graduation is an increasingly attractive option where students have covered the basics and have a particular technical interest or are ready for university level work. I believe student performance is improved when the system is set up to reward achievement with increased opportunities and options.
Q2. 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?
We have a lot of administrative bloat on the University level. State spending should be focused on academic programs, not controversial social and political agendas. In addition, technology offers ever increasing opportunities to effectively deliver educational content at a reduced cost. State institutions should be piloting and taking advantage of these opportunities.
Q3. Idaho has both an income tax and a 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?
I would like to see a shift from property tax to sales tax. Sales tax is more fair than property tax or income tax. It doesn’t penalize ownership and productivity, nor does it undermine the protection of personal property rights.
Q4. The grocery sales tax has long been debated in Idaho. Should Idaho repeal the tax on groceries? If yes, when?
Fundamentally, I appreciate the concept that food shouldn’t be taxed because it is necessary for supporting life. I also think that grocery tax repeal has some issues when it comes to determining which things qualify and which don’t. An across the board repeal of tax on food would be more attractive to me than one that tries to pick and choose which foods are favored– OR another option could be a repeal of tax on raw produce, grains, and milk which would translate into lower prices on processed foods and would benefit farmers, food markets, and consumers from the bottom up.
Q5. 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?
Yes, urban renewal should be phased out. It distorts markets in a way that unfairly straps existing business with the cost of subsidizing their own competition.
Q6. 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?
Opening up opportunities for competition and innovation in the insurance industry, including competition across state lines would be helpful. Also, transparency in costs prior to providing services would be helpful. Fundamentally, we have a problem with too many layers of regulated bureaucracy between customer and provider, driving up costs and often making it difficult for providers and patients to pursue the options which are really in the best interest of quality care. The more government gets in the middle, the more costs will grow and the choices will shrink. I believe Health Savings Accounts, tele-medicine, and cooperative arrangements where patients pay a flat monthly fee directly to a provider for routine care are innovative solutions that may help many people.
Q7. Criminal justice reform has become a bipartisan issue in recent years. Should Idaho explore further reforms? If so, which reforms would you support?
Yes. I believe we should start inside the prison by revamping the way we focus resources. The purposes of prison are (1) to keep society safe and (2) to rehabilitate. Prison should begin and proceed with the end in mind. All inmates with addiction issues should be required to enter addiction treatment at the very beginning of their sentence rather than jumping through this ‘hoop’ just months before they are eligible for parole. If they remain sober and successfully complete other required programming, they should have increased opportunities to make restitution, pursue productive endeavors, and prepare to integrate back into society. I am open to the idea of rewarding consistent positive choices with a reduction in sentencing. I am supportive of incarceration facilities specializing in addressing those who commit certain classifications of crimes– for example: addiction driven crimes, violent crimes, money crimes, etc. Individuals who commit non-violent money crimes should have sentences more focused on restitution rather than traditional imprisonment. The purpose of prison should be to exercise justice and mercy in a way that changes lives and leaves individuals and society better.
Q8. 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?
Definitely. We should begin by repealing licensing for professions the practice of which does not place the public health and safety at risk. In many instances, a shift from licensing which criminalizes someone for practicing a profession without permission to more of a professional credential indicating to the general public a level of expertise extended by an organization directed by members of the professional community but independent of government could be a reasonable step toward less regulation.
Q9. 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?
Yes– one program and one vote at a time. Idaho needs to recognize the many ways that the benefits of independence outweigh the financial perks of federal hand-outs. Increasing state control of natural resources within the state so that our publicly-owned resources are used to directly benefit the state, rather than allowing federal control of these resources and recouping PILT money, which is a miserly amount at best, could significantly strengthen our ability to be financially independent.
Q10. 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?
Idaho should maintain a clear respect for parental control and choice. Our constitutional responsibility is to provide a thorough and uniform K-12 education system, not to mandate or dictate the personal choices of individuals. Education savings accounts offer families the opportunity to fund their own child’s education directly without burdening the public system or asking others to subsidize their personal choices.
Q11. What is the proper role of state government?
To oversee the collected state tax money, and ensure that it is being utilized to the highest of standards for the residents of the state, and to be a voice for the residents of the state, and to give that voice at the national level. Not to think for them.