EDUCATION EDUCATION EDUCATION
What do we need to improve? In 2015 the U.S. Department of Education listed Idaho number 2 out of 50 States with a shortage of qualified teachers. I believe we need to increase wages and offer competitive benefits to keep our teachers from leaving Idaho. Idaho has the highest percentage in the nation of young children who aren’t in preschool. This means children may not be prepared for kindergarten and could struggle to catch up. Students struggle when it's time to enroll to pursue higher education due to the high cost of tuition and the lack of moderate percentage long term loans. There is a $301 million gap in estimated school capital expenditures. Idaho is among eighth in the U.S. without a state-funded preschool program, according to the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University.
First, we need to understand that increasing the number of people with health insurance means lower costs, lower premiums and better health care. With more people insured, it allows them access to basic and preventative health care, replacing hospitalization and other costly services.
The removal of the individual mandate for health insurance does not change the fact that the people of Idaho want and need health insurance. I support the Idaho Healthcare Exchange. I support the Children’s Health Insurance Program. I support Medicaid Expansion, Proposition 2 on November’s ballot. $3.3 billion will be left on the table over the next decade if Idaho does not expand Medicaid. Bringing Idaho federal tax dollars home to help Idahoans is smart policy.
Congress needs to address increasing competition in prescription drug pricing. That will produce $60 billion in health care savings and create savings in Medicare Part D. The next Congress needs to continue working to control costs and provide coverage.
I believe health care is a basic need and should be available to all.
Why is it so important to pay attention on Infrastructure? Idaho is the fastest growing state in the United States. We can maintain Idaho’s quality of life as we grow and prioritize public health and safety. We must plan for growth and maintain our bridges, dams, drinking water, energy, roads, schools, wastewater, and other needs. We need to fund comprehensive infrastructure solutions, solutions that anticipate future challenges, in the short term and long term.
Idaho has 51,163 miles of public roads - 15% of them are in poor condition. We have $4.22 million of unmet needs for our parks system.
According to the American Society of Civil Engineer's 2017 Infrastructure Report Card, Idaho has $961.8 million in drinking water infrastructure needs over the next 20 years.
As your member of congress, I support an increase in the minimum wage, maternity leave pay, and equal pay for women. I support the right to collective bargaining for fair wages, benefits, and safe work site conditions.
Our immigration system is antiquated, complex, and broken. I support comprehensive immigration reform, an independent Immigration Court and reasonable steps for responsible immigration policy. A bipartisan group worked for years to re-evaluate, re-establish and implement new steps to modernize our immigration law. It should not take years to implement changes.
I will advocate increasing the number of H-2A visas (Temporary Agricultural Worker permit) and H-2B visas (Temporary Business Worker permit), to expand temporary guest worker permits to cover areas with labor shortages. Idaho has nearly 100,000 immigrant residents and according to New American Economy, undocumented immigrants paid nearly $565 million in taxes in recent years even though they cannot receive any government benefits.
The public has been misinformed about this complex issue. Our national economy benefits from immigrant spending to the tune of $1.8 billion annually. Immigrant entrepreneurs and employees at immigrant owned firms provide a vibrant force in today’s economy. Idaho is the fastest growing state in the union. We cannot plant and harvest our crops, tend our livestock and operate our dairies without immigrants. The Idaho Dairymen's Association estimate immigrants make up more than 85% of the State's 8,300 dairy employees. Taking labor out of the hands of employers harms Idaho’s economy. I support farmers, ranchers, dairymen, and agricultural industries that struggle with labor shortages.
Criminal Justice Reform
We need criminal justice reform in order to decrease incarceration rates. The prison industry continues to grow even though our crime rate decreases. We imprison more people than every other nation. Idaho is in the top 10 of highest incarceration rates in the United States and has the fourth highest incarceration rate of women. We lock up 1 in every 28 adults, a rate higher than every state except Georgia. We need an effective Criminal Justice System where laws are created fairly and enforced fairly.
Our current laws, as they are, create disparities of justice in our Federal and State prisons. Private prisons with their lobbyists and system of campaign contributions have adverse ramification in our laws and imprisonment practices. The use of private prisons and private immigration detention centers are not in the best interest of the public.
Mandatory minimum sentencing, overcrowded prisons, limited access to health and mental health services, insufficient educational and rehabilitation programs send inmates back to their community who struggle to rebuild their lives. Families and communities suffer under our current laws. Laws created in the drug epidemic days of the 1960's must be reformed. End the war on drugs, and address drug use as a public health issue.
A top priority of the next congressional sessions should be reforming our criminal justice system in a manner that protects the public, establishes community rehabilitation options and ends our reliance on the one size fits all sentencing to expensive prisons. I strongly believe that sentencing should be proportionate to the crime committed with the goal of rehabilitation, restorative justice and humanity. Our system must be based on current research and best practices that casts aside outdated attitudes, documented biases and ineffective practices. Reform will save our nation money and better serve our people and communities.
I support the community policing model, working in partnership with the people they serve to reduce crime and intervene when laws are violated. Victims deserve justice. Defendants deserve fair and reasonable bail. We all are served with speedy and fair trials. Public defenders need adequate resources to do their job. Without this, fairness of the legal system is at risk.
Criminal justice, chemical dependency professionals, and the people are demanding reform. It's time to make government work for the people, not against them.
The people of the United States are ahead of their elected representatives concerning marijuana. There are a number of chronic medical conditions for which marijuana is an effective remedy. Moreover, recreational marijuana should be legalized as well. Recreational marijuana should be taxed with added revenues use for public needs and reducing the federal deficit. The use of marijuana by those over 21 will be regulated in a similar way as alcohol to protect the community from impaired drivers. It is time our drug laws reflected the will of the people. I support legalizing cannabis and its derivatives for those with medical needs. I support legalization of recreational marijuana. I support legalization of hemp crops for farmers.
Idaho has broad interests in agricultural, forestry, immigration reform, technology, transportation, education, and health care that cut across state lines. I pledge to seek common ground and build coalitions across party lines and across state borders for the benefit of Idaho and America. I value common ground, common sense solutions and common courtesy.