B.A. - Georgetown University
J.D. - Harvard Law School
Board of Boise State University Honors College
Board of Bogus Basin HOA
Volunteer civics teacher at various Boise schools
Years living in Idaho
Husband John, four kids ages 7-16
Education - I believe we should fund our schools to pre-recession levels, compensate educators at a level that allows us to recruit and retain top-quality teachers, pursue early childhood education, and implement the recommendations of the Task Force on Education. We have made progress toward some of these goals but are not there yet. These proposals can largely be funded with our current revenue stream provided we do not make reckless changes to our existing tax structure.
Public lands - I am very concerned at recent legislative initiatives to take over federal public lands. Idahoans love their open space, and if these lands should ever be sold off to the highest bidder, our children and grandchildren will lose access to Idaho's greatest treasure. Nor can Idaho afford the enormous cost of fighting fires and building roads on this land - costs currently paid by the federal government.
Health care - It is well past time for Idaho to expand Medicaid to cover the 78,000 people that now fall in the gap. Accepting these federal dollars would save Idaho taxpayers over $200 million, and would save many lives.
I support Medicaid expansion, whether through the Healthy Idaho Plan or some other form. The state has already fielded numerous study groups and task forces, and all have recommended that we accept federal dollars to extend Medicaid coverage to the 78,000 Idahoans in the gap. These are hard-working people who simply do not earn enough to qualify for subsidized insurance on the exchange, and they are now shut out from badly needed health care. Hospitals and taxpayers are having to swallow the costs when these uninsured people show up at emergency rooms. Idahoans have already paid the federal taxes that would cover Medicaid expansion, but now they have to pay again in county and other taxes because the House, on straight party lines, voted to reject federal Medicaid money. As such expansion would in fact save us money, funding is not an issue.
I do not believe we are investing enough in our public schools. All across the state, we continue to have schools that operate on 4-day weeks because they can't afford to keep the lights on 5 days a week. Average salaries of Idaho public school teachers are 48th in the nation, well below most of our neighboring states. In recent years we have seen an exodus of teachers, leaving many of our schools in crisis mode. Idaho could improve its go-on rate by increasing students' access to counselors that help them discover and navigate post-secondary opportunities.
College affordability is also a big obstacle - after major cuts during the recession, higher education funding is still well below 2009 levels. Our colleges and universities have had to respond with tuition hikes which put college out of reach for many. Besides restoring higher education funding, I think we should explore creative options such as co-op programs that would allow students to pay their way through school while gaining relevant and meaningful work experience. There is also opportunity for more public-private partnerships whereby industry can contribute to workforce development for hard-to-fill jobs.
I deeply oppose the Legislature's recent actions to pre-empt local control on issues such as minimum wage and plastic container regulation. It was especially remarkable that most of those voting for these bills had always argued against federal power over states, claiming that the government that is closest to the people governs best. Empty words, apparently. Unless a locality is infringing protected rights or undermining important state interests, they should be allowed to implement the policies that local citizens desire. Let them be the "laboratories of democracy."
I do not think the state should be trying to take control of federal lands. We can't afford to manage them, and they would inevitably be sold off, as they have been in every single other state that gained control of such lands. I'm not interested in turning Idaho into New Jersey.
I opposed: (1) HB463, banning local governments from raising the minimum wage; (2) HB431, capping the homeowner exemption at $100,000, significantly shifting the burden of property taxes to homeowners; and (3) HB372, banning local governments from regulating plastic bags and containers.
I supported: (1) HB644A, which would have opened the door to Medicaid expansion; (2) the creation of an intervention program to assist struggling readers; (3) HB507, providing for the timely testing of rape kits.
In practice, it is much more than part-time - even during off-session months, one usually has several hours a day of work related to the Legislature. It is nearly impossible to hold a traditional full-time job and be in the Legislature. Because the pay is so low (~$16k per year) while the time commitment is so significant, our Legislature tends to be comprised largely of retirees and those of significant economic means. I believe we would have a more representative cross-section in office if the pay reflected the true time commitment involved. I have met many people who would be wonderful legislators but won't consider running for office because they have to support their family and could not do so under the current structure.
I do support my party's nominee. Hillary Clinton has worked for decades to improve access to health care and education, and wisely realizes that we need to work with, rather than alienate, our allies in order to defeat the global threat of terror. She listens to scientists on climate change, and will advance us toward more renewable energy. This will benefit Idaho, which is rich in renewable energy resources. Donald Trump has disqualified himself with more statements than I can count, but I am most alarmed by his recent threat to order the Justice Department to prosecute and imprison his opponent should he become President. This is a threat to civil democracy on a scale we have not seen since Watergate and the "Saturday Night Massacre." I believe in the tradition of American democracy, and Donald Trump sounds like he does not.