Candidate survey: Bryan Zollinger

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?

I would attempt to return control of the education system to families and communities by reducing federal regulations and guidelines. I would also like to see salaries tied to performance and see administrative positions eliminated so that funds could go towards student achievement.

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?

I would continue to focus on eliminated administrative bloat and social programs and return the focus of our universities and colleges to educating and not creating social safe spaces and social clubs that are supplemented with tax payer dollars.

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?

Eliminate the grocery tax completely, reduce income tax rates further and work on controlling local government increases on property tax. By reducing the costs of administration in schools and limiting the amount of property taxes a local government can raise, local governments will have the money for items that are properly the role of governments and will have to learn to stop spending on wishes instead of needs.

Q4. The grocery sales tax has long been debated in Idaho. Should Idaho repeal the tax on groceries? If yes, when?

Absolutely, it is a very inefficient tax because we collect it only to refund a large portion of the tax. It is unnecessary because Idaho is already bringing more than a sufficient amount of revenue to fund necessary programs.

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, Idaho should end urban renewal. If we cannot end urban renewal, the laws should at least be changed to reflect the original intention of urban renewal programs of cleaning up city blight. Currently in Idaho and in my district, cities use urban renewal loopholes to create new developments, some of which were not even in city limits before the project was conceived.

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?

I would like to see Medicaid completely eliminated. If we can’t accomplish that then I would love to see block grants so Idaho can create it’s own system with the $3.1B we’re dumping into Medicaid. If that’s not possible right now I think we should add more work requirements or payback regulations to try to prevent fraud and waste. We also need to reduce other regulations on healthcare providers and increase competition among insurers and providers so that overall healthcare costs will go down.

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, many. Start with getting rid of mandatory minimum sentencing, then we could look at getting rid of jail time for drug users and other non violent offenses. Expungement of criminal records is also something that needs to be looked at so that people can find work once they are rehabilitated.

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?

Yes, almost all of them. I am perhaps okay with license on heart and brain surgeons or those licenses that pose life threatening risks to users. However, I think the free market would even regulate those industries if we allowed it.

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, stop agreeing to programs with strings attached and start telling the federal government to give us our tax dollars and let us spend it how we feel it is best used.

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?

I believe dollars should be attached to the students and parents should be allowed to take their students and use those tax payer dollars to educate their children how they desire. And if they choose to home school, they should get the requisite tax relief. Make schools compete for students.

Q11. What is the proper role of state government?

To make sure the playing field is level for everyone, no special deals for anyone. The government should only be providing those services that individuals cannot provide for themselves. For example, I believe it is the proper role of government to provide highways, courts of law, and jails and prisons but not individual healthcare.

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