I stand with the majority of Idahoans who reject our state being near the bottom of many social and economic measures. About 12% of Idaho’s population receives food stamps and Medicaid continues to grow, threatening spending on education and state functions. Despite some job creation, Idaho ranks fifth highest in the nation in the country for minimum wage jobs. And, like four years ago, the Tax Foundation found Idaho has one of the worst business tax climates in the West.
Meanwhile, the costs of healthcare, groceries, and other items keep rising with Idaho not adopting patient-centric healthcare alternatives, eliminating the tax on groceries, cutting regulations, or controlling government spending.
I spent my career as a businessman traveling the world promoting Idaho’s economy. I know what it will take to get this economy moving again. We will get government out of the way so Idaho businesses can grow. We will build on educating and training our workforce for jobs in growth industry sectors throughout our state. And, we will responsibly manage our natural resources to create business and job opportunities to unleash prosperity in every part of our state.
Idaho can and should be the best place in the world to start a business, locate a business, and run a business. It will have a highly skilled and educated workforce – both today and in the future. And it will be a state government that taxes less, spends little, and supports entrepreneurship. Idaho can become the “sparkling gem” to guide our people and this nation to economic prosperity.
Jobs and Employment
Underemployment sits at nearly 20%. This means we aren’t as prosperous as we could be. Added to that, Idaho has the fifth highest percentage of minimum wage workers in the country. While the unemployment rate has gone from 4.8% in 2014 to 3.9% today, some of our counties remain stuck at 6%, 7% or even 14%. I want high-wage job opportunities in every part of our state. If we focus on our strengths – natural resources, high-tech, healthcare, competitive business tax climate, and a highly skilled and educated workforce – Idaho could usher in a wave of prosperity, reaching households that have only known struggle. Idaho has the most hardworking and productive people in the world. And, our young people have shown tremendous promise. They all deserve better. I believe we can do better. We can do this!
Taxes and Regulation
High taxes and too much regulation stifle economic growth. Idaho’s tax and regulatory burden is high compared to surrounding states. In fact, we are ranked below all our surrounding states when it comes to the best business tax climate by the Tax Foundation. At a time when so many Idahoans are struggling to pay the bills, Idaho’s families and job creators should not have to forfeit any more of their money to the government. We must reduce tax burdens and eliminate unnecessary regulations, permits, and licenses. We should also finally get rid of the grocery tax that hurts those hardworking Idaho families trying to make ends meet.
Currently, 36% of our state budget is funded with federal dollars… that come with “strings attached”. We have become a subsidiary of the federal government, a funding source that is both broke and broken. Our state’s dependence on a Washington, D.C. that can’t get anything done is preventing us from controlling our economic future.
We need to strategically, gradually, wean budget dependence from Washington, DC and replace it with our own local economic growth revenue. I will take steps to identify programs supported with federal dollars, steering policy toward the rejection of grants that make us reliant on ineffective or unwanted mandates. Idaho deserves new leadership that will require the federal government work with Idaho, while allowing Idahoans to identify alternative solutions at lower costs to Idaho’s taxpayers.
Idaho’s adoption and implementation of Common Core can be seen by the impact of the mandated “SBAC” test. It is costly, time-consuming, distracting to administer, and intrusive on our schools. And for it, are we gaining the results we need to ensure our children are getting a high-quality education? The federal government has been imposing education requirements on states since the 1970s. From initiatives in the 1990s, to No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top, the federal government has given us everything except for one thing: a good education. A good education comes from involved parents, good teachers, top-quality learning materials, the latest technology, and a supportive community. All of that is here in Idaho.
We must build an education system that provides high-quality training to ensure a competitive workforce. That includes opportunities for re-training to get people back to work in emerging industries. Rather than embracing federal regulations, I believe that we should limit the federal government’s role in education by creating local programs that allow parents to control what their children are being taught. Whether it’s public, private, charter, digital or home school, the success of the student must come first. That’s why Idahoans, not the federal government, should control our own education system.
We must build an education system that provides high-quality training to ensure a competitive workforce. That includes opportunities for re-training to get people back to work in emerging industries. Local governments need flexibility to work with companies looking to locate or expand in Boise, Meridian, and the rest of Idaho. That’s why I promote cutting taxes and incentivizing the people of Idaho to excel in our own economy.
The federal government controls 63% of Idaho’s land, but it is over-burdened with debt and simply can’t handle the job. I believe Idahoans can more effectively manage our lands here than federal officials can from Washington, D.C. In Idaho, we are proud of our natural resource industries and the jobs that they create. I will not sit idle while federal bureaucrats who don’t live here and don’t know us tell us what to do with our land. Or make us deal with larger and more damaging fires because the federal government can’t spend enough money to thin and manage our forests. We can do better. We can use our natural resources for higher paying jobs, protect our environment, and manage our forests more responsibly than the federal government.
While healthcare delivery in Idaho continues to improve, healthcare and healthcare insurance continues to rise. Moreover, Idaho’s health exchange is under stress and Medicaid’s costs continue to increase. We need more choice, lower prices, more transparency, and less federal government intrusion in both healthcare and healthcare insurance. Choice is not forcing every insurance policy to fit rigid Obamacare mandates. Choice means letting people buy what they need for themselves and their families. It is helped by letting people take advantage of things like robust Health Savings Accounts and other products and services. Lower prices come from unleashing competition by medical providers and insurance companies. This includes charity care, direct primary care, health club memberships, access to clinics that reduce traffic in hospital emergency rooms, and removing Obamacare’s Essential Health Benefits mandates. This also includes, medi-share, expanded disease management, and wellness programs that utilize technology. Cost reductions will come by implementing these patient-centric alternatives, by removal of unnecessary federal and state regulations, and by putting more of the expenditures under the direct control of the patient.
Idaho should have a healthcare system where choice, transparency, competition, and fewer government mandates will empower individuals with less costs and greater access to high-quality healthcare and insurance. We don’t need government-controlled Obamacare or a health exchange. We need a “parallel path” based more on market and private charitable alternatives and less on government controls.
President Ronald Reagan once said the best way to measure the success of a government program is to count the number of people who no longer needed it. Sadly, it is just the opposite story in Idaho. There are too many of our fellow citizens who must rely on government just to make ends meet. They would rather have good-paying jobs that allow them to provide for their families and enjoy the benefits of employment.
Medicaid expansion means more government control at greater costs. It also means more stress on our state budget with uncertain promises from a federal government that is both broke and broken. I will not stand by while Idaho continues to put the healthcare of our most vulnerable citizens at risk of federal government promises based on uncertain budget dollars.
When it comes to Medicaid expansion, Idaho needs to be in control to ensure that the vulnerable in our state get greater choice with access at lower costs and of higher quality. This means patient-centric alternatives and more self-management of programs. I will work to “re-balance” our relationship with the federal government to curtail the heavy hand of centralized control, while bettering those in trouble in Idaho. I will also give working poor people who lack options real and affordable choices.
We must work to empower Idahoans with a patient-centric system that puts them in charge and makes insurance and healthcare providers compete for their business. We must give the most vulnerable in our society more choice, more affordability, and more control.
I have always been a staunch defender of the 2nd Amendment. I stand against any efforts to erode every Idahoan’s constitutional right to bear arms. I was proud the Idaho legislature finally embraced Constitutional Carry. I received an A+ rating from the NRA for my efforts to protect the 2nd Amendment in Idaho.
As a father of three young adults, I have always been ardently pro-life. I believe that life begins at conception, and that every unborn child has the inherent right to life. For my longstanding efforts to protect the unborn in the Idaho Legislature, I received the ”Friend For Life” Award from Idaho Chooses Life, and the “Legacy of Life” award from Stanton Healthcare.
I was opposed to the reintroduction of wolves into Idaho in the 1990’s, and I oppose it today. I have always held the position that an excessive population of wolves is detrimental to Idaho’s economy and natural resources. It is also another example of distant federal bureaucrats imposing their views on local Idahoans. We must reduce wolf populations in Idaho and ensure that the damage they cause is fully compensated.