Idaho’s future belongs to all of us.

Education for our future

As a mother, I have witnessed firsthand the shortcomings and successes of Idaho’s education system. As a businesswoman, I understand that investing in education means investing in Idaho’s bottom line. As Governor, I plan to improve the entire education spectrum, from preschool to higher education so that we will be raising future leaders, not followers.

Our economy will pay dividends when we invest in education. States with strong public schools succeed economically, and it’s no secret that our state’s education system is inadequate. In an analysis by Education Week’s national report card, Idaho received a D-plus this year in education quality, ranking our state as 48th in education overall. I believe that further investment and innovation in public education will strengthen Idaho’s economy and support its struggling rural areas.

We can improve the source of funding to our public schools through smarter spending. By eliminating avoidable costs to our state such as expensive and unnecessary legal conflicts, costly contracts to house Idaho prisoners in other states, and tax loopholes for big corporations, we will have more money to direct to our state’s students. As Governor, I’ll prioritize funding for public education and take ownership for changing a culture that has historically de-valued education.

 

Universal Preschool

The pipeline to college begins in preschool, and currently Idaho’s pipeline is poorly underfilled. My first priority is to invest in an opt-in statewide universal preschool program, where these additional education dollars will have the highest return for our students. Child development research shows us that children learn best and retain the most information between the ages of 0 to 5, yet Idaho is tied with North Dakota for last place in the percentage of children enrolled in pre-K. Why should we be okay with being at the bottom of national rankings? It is our responsibility to provide our children with the educational tools and resources during this most critical time in their development. Public preschool will prepare all Idaho children to enter elementary school with basic language proficiency and social skills, ensuring a higher level of equity within our school environments and fostering continued learning.

The state constitution mandates adequate funding of public schools but the previous administration has shifted this responsibility to the backs of school districts. As Governor, I will fund education at the level our state constitution requires…not only because it’s the law, but because our children are worth the investment. My plan willpave the path that lays out the necessary stepping stones for our children’s success.

 

Fair Teacher Pay

Idaho’s teachers are the heart of our education system, and we need to treat them like the vital asset they are. If we fail to prioritize fair teacher compensation, our public schools will have no legs to stand on. According to an Idaho News study , for all teachers, not counting postsecondary instructors, Idaho’s teacher salaries rank lowest in the nation, and come in 12 percent below the national average. Kindergarten and pre- K teacher salaries also rank lowest in the nation, and lag 18 percent behind the national average. It’s no wonder we are losing ten percent of our teachers to other states every year.

In order to remain competitive, and to attract and retain our best teachers, Idaho needs to pay its educators salaries comparable to those in surrounding states. During the last legislative. session, I helped introduce a bill that would forgive teachers’ student loan debts if they worked in our rural schools. Incentive programs like this one help create education equity across our state.

Additionally, savings generated from Medicaid expansion (~$40 million), and state revenue generated from medical cannabis taxation (~$27 million) can be reallocated toward increasing teacher salaries across our state. With smarter investments come smarter spending. When reallocating our priorities, teachers will be near the top of our list. My plan as Governor will be to bring in 250 new teachers to Idaho each year and pay them fairly.

Affordable Higher Education

Post-high school education isn’t a luxury. It’s a necessity. By 2020, a high school education alone will qualify Idahoans for only one third of all jobs in the state. I’m not content with educating Idaho students so that they’re eligible for only a third of jobs out there. But I realize that many Idahoan families struggle to afford the cost of in-state college tuition.

As Governor, I will help ease the financial burden of higher education by investing in technical and career training programs for high school students – particularly in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math), a field that yielded 7,000 unfilled jobs in Idaho last year alone. I will also increase funding for AP (Advanced Placement) classes and dual credit classes in high schools, so that students can get a running start on their University credits and complete their college degrees sooner and at a lower cost to them and their families. Digital education opportunities, like online classes for college credit, also help increase the affordability of higher education. As Governor, I will push for the expansion of these opportunities to ensure that every Idahoan is equipped to compete in the American economy of the future.

Funding Education

I am committed to improving Idaho’s neglected educational infrastructure. As Governor I will fund Eastern Idaho’s most vulnerable community’s educational institutions with ~$6.6 million, using the 2018-2019 Defense Bill’s Impact Aid. My plan will fund child investment concepts by increasing teacher pay, fund the development of community centers, technological advancements, and after-school-programs, using a projected direct savings of $23 million in the first year alone from the decriminalization of marijuana.

Through the legalization of cannabis, Washington State generated $306 million last year, and Colorado accrues an average of $140 million annually. Colorado dedicates its first $40 million in revenue to “BEST”, their state’s public education fund from Colorado’s 15% excise tax on wholesale marijuana. These funds are dedicated to the renewal and construction of Colorado schools, along with bullying prevention programs, suicide prevention (Idaho has one of the highest in the nation), dropout prevention, and early literacy programs (which is similar to my Universal Pre-K Plan). Idaho is currently 43rd in teacher pay, which is $12,000 below the national average. This is unacceptable. Our teachers deserve better and so do our students.

As an additional way to fund education, we can leverage funds from the $50.5 million we will save when my administration terminates the 20-year prison contract we currently lease with MTC. We can also invest in our teachers using the $17 million in annual savings from ending out-of-state prison contracts. Our rural communities face unique challenges and require an essential increase in funding for our rural communities with cutting-edge resources. The Little-Otter administration has effectively reduced aggregate student class time by 20%, by allowing schools in 29 of Idaho’s 44 counties to have 4-day school weeks. I have practical transparent solutions consisting of technological innovations, improvement of the student/teacher ratio by paying our teachers more and hiring the best and brightest. This plan involves universal Pre-K for all Idaho’s 4 and 5-year-old children, which will also improve the return rate of mothers into Idaho’s labor force. I will work to enhance access to quality internet, enriching connectivity and expanding community centers for much-needed after school programs. Primarily, my long-term solutions consist of cutting the grocery tax to ease the burden on the 1 in 3 poor working-class families in Idaho. I will also end the 136 sales tax exemptions that account for $2.4 billion in uncollected revenue, which highlights my opposition’s complete disregard for Idaho’s middle and poor working class.

Healthcare for all

In Idaho, we are committed to taking care of one another, regardless of our differing circumstances. That’s why I believe that affordable and accessible healthcare is a basic human right. For too long, too many Idahoans have struggled without sufficient access to healthcare across our state.

Idahoans deserve access to healthcare that is affordable, easy to find, and doesn’t cost us a fortune. Prop 2 will help with this, but it’s only the beginning. We need every Idahoan to be able to afford basic preventative medicine, in order to bring down healthcare costs statewide and strengthen our local hospitals and economies.

Medicaid Expansion

The first piece of the solution is to provide adequate funding for healthcare services. Right now, 62,000 Idahoans have been left in a coverage gap – they don’t qualify for Medicaid but can’t afford to purchase their own health insurance. As governor, I will support expanding Medicaid to provide everyone in Idaho with the primary care and coverage they deserve. This will save Idaho and our local counties $34 million per year by avoiding the medical costs of uninsured patients – funds that we will reinvest back into our local hospitals and communities.  

YES on Proposition 2

Allowing people to suffer because they lack access to care, or go bankrupt because they can’t afford it, is simply not right.  Nor is it fiscally prudent.  Therefore, I support the passage of Prop 2 to provide care for those in the Medicaid gap.  I do recognize that this will not solve the longer-term challenge of the epidemic of chronic disease.  However, we can leverage the expansion of Medicaid as a policy tool to implement healthcare innovation.  The savings will be significant.  To learn more about how we will do this, click here and here and here for one example of how this type of healthcare innovation, taken from the US Military, has been used with patients who suffer from chronic pain.  

Those who will be most directly impacted by the expansion of Medicaid now often get their healthcare services from a hospital emergency room.  This is the most expensive way possible to provide patient care.  Though it is sometimes called charity care, the emergency room bills do in fact get paid by spreading out these costs across all participants of the healthcare “system”.  This includes rural hospitals, the County (through property taxes) or the State Indigent Program (through the General Fund), as well as Blue Cross Blue Shield of Idaho.  Longer-term, none of these organizations or programs can bear the increasing financial burden of paying for patient care this way.  Longer-term we must innovate.

Read more about Paulette’s stances on Proposition 2 here.  

 

The Foundation of my Healthcare Policy – A Focus on Data

Approximately 85% of all money spent on healthcare in the United States is spent treating chronic conditions.  When someone has a “chronic condition”, it means they stay sick.  They are chronically ill.  The care they are given does not get them well.  In light of this we ask,  “Why is it that so much of patient care appears to be so ineffective?”  Asking this question helps to shine a light on one of the healthcare industry’s well-kept secrets:  

For chronic disease in particular, the care offered to patients doesn’t work very well.

In the last ten years, virtually all the public discussion about healthcare has been about providing better access and lowering the cost of health insurance.  It hasn’t been about improving the actual care of healthcare.   In fact, what we call healthcare isn’t really about health care.  It’s about sick care.  At the foundation of our sickness care system, we pay physicians to manage patient illness / disease.  They don’t get paid to get patients healthy or keep them healthy.  

As long as we continue to pay physicians to manage disease that is what they will do (that doesn’t make them bad people – we all do what we’re paid to do).  Unfortunately, the incentive for physicians to operate this way is embedded into the entire healthcare system – this is what keeps them focused on managing illness rather than getting people well.  In fact, the incentive to provide sickness care is so deeply entrenched in the system that much of what has historically been called “medical innovations” are really just new, more expensive ways of managing sickness.  No other industry operates this this way. Would you continue to take your car to the same auto body shop if they only managed your car trouble rather than solved it? To transform healthcare this is what must change.  To implement true healthcare transformation, we must gather the right data at the right time and in the right place.  When I am Governor, the sign on my desk will read:

In God We Trust.  Everyone Else Must Bring Data.

What does this mean? Read more about this here.  

The Otter/Little administration has failed. In 2001, long before the political battles over reforming healthcare took shape, the Institute of Medicine (part of the National Institute of Health), gathered various policy experts and asked the question:  “How do we fix healthcare in the United States?”  That group published a report on their findings called Crossing the Quality Chasm, in which the second paragraph of page 2 can be summarized and paraphrased as this:  The system we have cannot be tweaked.  It must be rebuilt from the ground up.  This is 2018.  Seventeen years after the IOM established a blueprint to “fix healthcare”, the State of Idaho still has not taken the initiative to implement a plan to do what the IOM recommended.  

As with so many other topics and initiatives, the Otter/Little administration congratulates itself for all of the activity it has generated, but it offers no tangible evidence of any results to show that they have made a material difference.  There are more sick people in Idaho than ever.  We spend more money on healthcare than ever, and chronic disease, in many forms, is a bigger epidemic in Idaho than ever.  The Otter/Little administration’s activity has not made a difference whatsoever.  

This is ineffective government – something most Idahoans are sick and tired of tolerating.  It is Too Little, Too Late.  

When I am Governor we will use a data driven approach to spending the people’s money.   

Currently, when a patient sees a doctor/doctors, no information is ever collected on how well their recommendations (individually or collectively) worked for the patient.  No agency of the federal or state level is required to collect this data   And physicians and hospitals are not required to collect or submit such data in order to get paid for the care they provide.  So, quite literally, regardless of who pays for a patient’s “care”, whether it is an employer, the State, an insurance company or the patient themselves, information that helps answer the question of whether or not it worked well is missing from the system.  

A fundamental shift in how we will pay for the “medicine that works” can be illustrated by the US Military’s use of what is called “battlefield acupuncture”.  Battlefield acupuncture is a technique taught to all Special Forces personnel in the US Military. 

Each one of these Special Forces warriors carries five acupuncture needles, and is trained to treat the pain of acute injuries sustained in the battlefield.  The technique, developed by the USAF Medical Service, has been in use for more than ten years.  It is very effective at treating pain.  Now think about this.  

We have an opioid crisis in Idaho (and across the nation) because physicians have only one tool in their clinical toolbox for the treatment of pain – opioids.  We all know that opioids can be addictive, and the social cost of that addiction to patients, families, communities and social service agencies is dramatic and is only getting worse.  Why don’t we in the civilian sector use what our Special Forces use to treat pain?  

The answer is that the incentives in our healthcare system are all wrong.  Physicians are incentivized to manage illness by prescribing drugs and scheduling surgeries, but the use of simple, inexpensive remedies are not incentivized anywhere in the system.  This is but one example of how a smarter approach to healthcare can not only be more effective for patients, but also create significant savings for the State.  Doing so enables us to do more with the resources we have.  It will decrease our dependence on the federal government, which hasn’t, to date, fixed the fundamental problem, no matter which party has been in power.  

Innovation and smarter financing strategies to provide more healthcare services to more people – all with no tax increase – is smarter, more efficient government.  That is what I stand for.  

More on healthcare.  

The Lt. Governor often says, “I have a plan”.  If adopted, his plan for healthcare would be a disaster for older Idahoans and those with pre-existing conditions.  Read why:  

Brad Little likes to speak about how he was intimately involved with the Governor’s submission to the Federal Health and Human Services (HHS) Agency of a plan to offer “short-term” insurance policies that would be cheaper than what is available on the Idaho Insurance Exchange.  

Brad Little says he believes in transparency in government.  He said transparency is the “mother’s milk” of a Democratic Republic.  Below is evidence of his deception.  It should be noted that the plan submitted by the Otter/Little administration to President Trump’s HHS Agency was rejected.  Even the Trump administration thought it went too far to cut the consumer protections of the Affordable Care Act.  

Here is a summary article of Little’s plan written by a health insurance analyst from an   insurance industry publication.  In this article, scroll down to the Section entitled, “What was Idaho proposing?”  

Here is a summary of key provisions of Little’s “plan” that relies on what are called state-based plans, which used to be called short-term coverage plans.   We have taken the liberty to highlight the changes (in red) that are promoted in Little’s plan.  The net impact is that the older you are, the less you are protected.

  1. Coverage in state-based plans would be guaranteed-issue (i.e., applications could not be rejected based on medical history), but applicants could be charged higher premiums (up to 50 percent above the plan index rate), essentially a tax of 50%, based on their pre-existing medical history.

  NOTE:  Half of all adults in Idaho would be expected to pay the 50% tax.

2. Insurers could use a 5:1 age rating ratio for state-based plans, as opposed to the ACA’s 3:1 age rating ratio. Under the ACA, older applicants cannot be charged more than three times as much as younger applicants, but Idaho’s bulletin would allow insurers to offer state-based plans with premiums for older applicants that are up to five times as much as the premiums for younger applicants.

 NOTE:  Little’s plan raises the maximum charge an insurance company can impose upon a customer from 3x the amount it charges its younger customers (under Obamacare) to 5x the amount it charges it younger customers.

3. Pre-existing conditions could be subject to a waiting period before coverage applies, but that waiting period would be waived if the consumer had proof of continuous prior coverage.

NOTE:  Coverage for pre-existing conditions is conditional

4. Out-of-pocket maximum costs would still have to be capped, but notably, insurers would be able to apply separate out-of-pocket maximums for various services, such as prescriptions versus other medical care.

NOTE:  Your out-of-pocket costs are capped under Obamacare policies.  With  Little’s plan your out-of-pocket costs are applied to individual services.      

More mis-management in healthcare by the Otter/Little administration According to Ballotopedia, an independent source of information that is material to ballot measures from all over the country, (see the bottom of page 7, iIn 2016, the last year for which annualized data is available, 82% of Medicaid spending in Idaho was done through Fee-For-Service (FFS) payments to providers.  FFS describes the historical design of how healthcare service providers get paid based on the time spent with a patient – not whether the physician’s advice created any value for the patient.  FFS is the heart of the dysfunction in America’s healthcare.  It is the most wasteful way in which to pay healthcare providers because it doesn’t hold them accountable for the results they produce.   It is 2018 and FFS, as a model for paying providers of patient care services, can’t disappear soon enough.  Given the State of Idaho’s responsibility to see that the people’s money is spent wisely and well, this statistic is yet again proof that the Otter/Little administration has been asleep.  That kind of government is more descriptive of some Good Ol’ Boys network that didn’t care about whether the people’s interests were championed or not.  This kind of nonsense will come to a quick end when I am Governor.  

The Otter/Little Legacy:  1 in 8 Idaho Patients Skip Physician Visits Due to Cost Since 2005, the Republican Governor and the Lt. Governor of Idaho have championed a lot of activity to do something about the cost of health insurance and healthcare for the people of Idaho.  We concede that this is true.  HOWEVER, if the people of this State only cared about whether the leadership was busy, we wouldn’t have much to complain about.  All of the activity that Brad Little champions as his “experience” has led to what kind of results?  That is the question that should be asked by each and every citizen of this State.  The failure to use the State’s purchasing power and resources to contain healthcare costs in the State has led to the following stunning statistic:  

Becker’s Hospital Review, one of the top hospital industry publications, in their 9-24-18 publication (here) using data from the Kaiser Family Foundation, found that more than one in seven (13.6%) Idaho residents didn’t see a physician because they couldn’t afford it.

What’s more basic about the failure of Little’s leadership than that?    

Brad Little and Obamacare – When you can’t fix a problem, create an illusion. The Lt. Governor has often said that Obamacare ruined healthcare in the State of Idaho.  He talks about how the cost of insurance coverage purchased on the Idaho Exchange has risen over 100%.  That is true.  However, that is not about Obamacare.  It is about how the State government failed to contain medical inflation in Idaho.  Based on data from the State, and the Pew Charitable Trust, the cost of Idaho State employee health insurance, not materially affected by Obamacare, has also risen in the last five years.  In fact, the costs of covering the State’s employees has increased by 246% since 2013.  The data which supports this statement is found here (page 7 for 2013), and here (for FY2018/2019).    

Brad Little and the Good Ol’ Days.

In one of the debates with his primary challengers, Brad Little spoke explicitly about “going back to the way it was before Obamacare”.  A lawsuit has been filed in federal court in Texas by 20 Republican Attorney Generals.  The lawsuit seeks to overturn Obamacare and if it succeeds it will eliminate the pre-existing conditions clause of the legislation.  That means that ANYONE with a pre-existing condition will be underwritten by whatever insurance company they seek to buy health insurance from thereafter. Based on data from page 5 of a report issued by the Idaho Dept. of Health and Welfare entitled Coordinated Chronic Disease Plan of Idaho (2011 data), http://www.healthandwelfare.idaho.gov/Portals/0/Health/CoordChronicDis_Plan_2014_Final.pdf , 26% of the adult Idaho population has been diagnosed with arthritis.  While it must be said that Idaho’s Attorney General was not part of the lawsuit, nevertheless, if the Republican Party’s national legal strategy wins in court, 25% of all adults in Idaho will lose their coverage for arthritis treatment, or they’ll have to pay extra to have the condition covered.  And this is just one medical condition.  The rule of thumb is that about 1 in 2 adults in the United States have at least one diagnosis of a chronic condition.  

Brad Little owes the people of Idaho an explanation as to what he will do to protect the people of Idaho if the Republican Party wins the court case in Texas. This is too important to too many people to allow him to get away with saying “I have a plan” without revealing anything.  

That we even have to have this conversation is unconscionable.     

The Otter/Little administration has wasted a lot of the people’s money.

In a report issued in 2017, http://www.ncsl.org/research/health/state-employee-health-benefits-ncsl.aspx#Report,the National Conference of State Legislatures showed that only two States in the country had fully insured health insurance programs for employees and their dependents.  Idaho was one of the two.  When an employer is “self-insured” it means that it only pays medical claims as they are incurred.  By contrast, a fully insured employee benefit program means: (1) the employer (in our case the State of Idaho) pays the insurance company a premium every month whether the employee or dependent was offered healthcare services or not, and (2) the ability to drive innovation is in the hands of the insurance company, not the employer.  A fully insured employee benefit program is the most expensive possible way to provide employee healthcare benefits to employees and their dependents.  It is a format that has the insurance company in control of the relationship.  As an employer, the State of Idaho has always been fully-insured.  

When moving from a fully-insured healthcare benefit program to one that is self-insured, an employer typically saves about 30% from what they had been paying the insurance company.  It is important to note that employees and dependents covered under the benefit plan see no changes in their benefits by virtue of moving from fully-insured to self-insured.  Moving to a self-insured format is simply a smarter financing arrangement that saves the employer a lot of money.  

Especially for a large employer such as a State, self-insurance makes sense.  Why pay the insurance company every month when not all employees incur claims every month?  As of 2017, the State of Idaho had not implemented a self-funded arrangement.  Whispers in the State House are that the Otter/Little administration was too “close” to Blue Cross Blue Shield of Idaho.  Though Dr. Ahlquist (a primary opponent of Brad Little) spoke of it in the primary, the Idaho press has failed to delve into this topic.  

It is not a stretch to say that long after other states moved to a self-insurance arrangement, continuing a full- insured arrangement for the State of Idaho was a breach of trust and dereliction of duty to the people of this State.  

Had the Otter/Little administration employed prudent business practices to the State’s employee benefit program over the last nine years, the State would have had an extra $300-$400 million dollars to spend on other needs. In our third debate my opponent spoke of transparency in government being the “mother’s milk” of a democratic republic.  Wasting taxpayers’ money for years is the height of professional hypocrisy.  We are tired of the same old shenanigans.  We are tired government by cronyism.  We want courageous leadership, and after nine years, his response of “I have a plan” doesn’t cut it anymore.

Land protection and conservation

Here in Idaho, our land is not only our heritage, but also the source of our livelihood. It serves as a valuable asset to our state – one that should be shared by everyone, not auctioned off to wealthy individuals and big corporations for private profit. As an asset, it must be protected and preserved for Idaho’s future generations. Idaho is not for sale, but it is for Idahoans to enjoy. As Governor, I will support a prescriptive roads statute that will ensure Idahoans access to their public places, and I will work together with land owners, the Federal government, and the State Land Board to listen to our people’s voices and not let private interests block us from our greatest shared resource.

 

Public Lands in Public Hands

As governor, I will ensure that all public lands remain in the custody of the public, so we can continue to enjoy and utilize them, living freely and proudly in the lifestyle Idahoans all cherish. As a member of Idaho’s land board, I have long been a supporter of the Good Neighbor Authority Agreement, which allows the state of Idaho to co-manage public lands with the U.S. Forest Service for healthy forest management and continued public access.

Conservation & Cleanup

We can’t stop at mere access to our lands. Idaho’s environment is being degraded by abuse and overuse, which threatens both our health and our economic growth. Idaho is home to four of the ten most polluted school counties in the United States. Every day that our leaders fail to clean up this contamination and neglect to enforce existing air and water pollution laws, they endanger the ability of our children to learn and grow.

Combating Climate Change

I believe in science: climate change is real, and in Idaho, it is one of the greatest environmental and economic challenges we face. The increased intensity and frequency of droughts, fires, and flooding is hitting us at the heart of our most profitable industries: agriculture, timber, and tourism. As governor, I will work to position Idaho as a leader in developing solutions that mitigate the effects of climate change. We will take responsibility for the protection of our environment while positioning our state to prosper in the rapidly-growing clean energy and sustainability sector.

Prosperous Idaho

It’s a simple fact that Idaho’s economy is suffering. Local businesses struggle to keep doors open and many workers cannot provide for their families on a full-time salary. These economic realities hit our rural towns the hardest. As Governor, I will revitalize our economy in every part of our state by investing in innovation and expanding opportunity, especially in rural areas.   We must invest in our future. If we don’t, thousands of jobs will go unfilled, training programs will go underfunded, education goals will continue to go unmet, and we will lose our workforce to states that align more with their personal values. I will not only build a culture of innovation, I will build a culture of acceptance to go alongside it.

A Livable Wage

Idaho ranks 50th in the nation for livable wage. Idahoans who work full time shouldn’t be living in poverty, yet our state has many people working themselves into a status that’s below the poverty line. Even though they’re working more, they’re earning less.

Our state has the lowest minimum wage in the West, but has the highest number of minimum-wage workers. Low wages and the minimum wage rate affect everyone, not just teenagers working after-school jobs. The current minimum wage of $7.25/hour was set in 2009. As we all know, inflation and the cost of living have risen significantly since then. The state’s refusal to let communities set a minimum wage that’s right for them is just another example of government interference. Local communities should have the right to set a wage that voters in their area feel is fair for them. Right now, our communities don’t have that right, and that’s wrong.

As Governor, I will look at every opportunity to raise the minimum wage, including indexing, which is done in fifteen states currently. I will work with the Idaho State Legislature and in collaboration with the business community on a graduated plan to begin raising the minimum wage in manageable increments – an initiative other cities and states have successfully accomplished across the country. As part of my pro-family platform, and as a mother, I will fight for Idaho parents to make a living wage that supports their families, allowing them to be less stressed about their pocketbooks and more focused on raising their kids with the values important to them. It’s past time to raise the state’s minimum wage above $7.25/hour. Too many families are struggling to survive on too little income. I will promote local control, which will allow local communities to raise wages as they see fit.

Taxes

According to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, our poorest neighbors spend more of their income on state and local taxes than wealthier Idahoans do. Our lowest- earning 20 percent (those earning less than $20k/year) spend 9% of their family income on taxes, whereas our highest-earning 20 percent (those earning at least $88k/year) spend 7.5%. Idaho’s tax structure unduly punishes our poor working families. Low- income Idahoans were hit hardest by property and sales taxes. These property tax increases are the result of school district levies, which were necessitated by the state’s failure to properly fund education. The wealthiest 20% spent less of their incomes on property taxes (1.6%) and sales/excise taxes (1.7%). The wealthiest 1% in the state spent just 0.9 percent of earnings on sales and excise taxes.

All of this is to say that, proportionately, Idaho’s poorest families are paying the most in taxes and I don’t think this is right. As Governor, my goal is to cut the sales tax in half and eliminate the tax on groceries, which will help our citizens who need it the most. We will incentivize small business over big business and fill the empty store fronts on our rural main streets. In evaluating policies that will come across my desk as the Governor of Idaho, I will always ask these questions: Does it help Idaho families? Does it help our towns and cities, our kids, and our future? If the answer is yes, those are the policies I will support.

Innovation

Here in Idaho, we value self-sufficiency, and we have a legacy of embracing homegrown clean energy – our Boise Statehouse is the only state capitol building in the country heated by geothermal water, a resource we are fortunate to have in abundance in Idaho. Clean energy technology is one of the fastest-growing sectors in the world, with solar energy creating jobs at seventeen times the rate of the rest of the U.S. economy. We are fortunate to live in a state with the resources and the talent to compete on the cutting edge of the energy industry. As governor, I will invest in the expansion and further development of our homegrown energy resources: wind, solar, water, geothermal, and biomass energy.

I want to grow Idaho’s information technology sector by investing in STEM education at the high school level, so that our state has the workforce to create and drive a booming tech industry. I will also help foster public-private partnerships between our universities, technology companies, and the Idaho National Lab in order to expand job opportunities for Idaho’s students in the information technology sector.

As Governor, I plan to promote research and development around advanced technologies in the agriculture and timber industries, which will cut costs and enhance sustainability. I will fight to bring innovative practices to Idaho, such as cross-laminated timber, a sustainable, wood-based building material, and I will advance future-focused policy, like legislation that allows ranchers and farmers to increase earnings by developing both agriculture and energy products.

Cannabis

As Governor, I will decriminalize cannabis use and industrial hemp production in my first 100 days in office, and will work with the legislature to implement smart, compassionate, and revenue-positive access to cannabis for medical use. And this is not just for one type of oil, and not just what the pharmaceutical industry is synthesizing.Decriminalizing cannabis use and industrial hemp production is very good for the overall health of our state (including fiscal). Through the legalization of cannabis, Washington State generated $306 million last year, and Colorado accrues an average of $140 million annually. Colorado dedicates its first $40 million in revenue to “BEST”, their state’s public education fund from Colorado’s 15% excise tax on wholesale marijuana. These funds are dedicated to the renewal and construction of Colorado schools, along with bullying prevention programs, suicide prevention (Idaho has one of the highest in the nation), dropout prevention, and early literacy programs (which is similar to my Universal Pre-K Plan).

Tourism

To boost economic activity in rural areas, we must harness the full potential of Idaho’s $3.4 billion tourism industry – an opportunity that our state’s leaders have failed to cash in on. By implementing a strategic national marketing campaign, we can attract many more visitors to enjoy the locally-grown food, iconic rivers, and incredible wilderness areas of rural Idaho. As Governor, I will propose a plan for the implementation of a statewide rural transportation system, which will link rural areas with urban areas to optimize tourism opportunities in small communities.

Internet Equality

Idaho struggles with a digital divide – while most of Idaho has high-speed internet, 21% of our state is considered underserved, or lacking sufficient connectivity. As governor, I will work to expand broadband access to these areas. While 83% of the population on Idaho’s tribal lands is underserved, the most connected tribal community is my own, the Coeur d’Alene tribe. I served on the Coeur d’Alene Tribal Council when we constructed a wireless and Fiber-to-the-home network across the reservation, so I know what it takes to provide rural communities with the internet connectivity they require to connect and thrive in the modern economy.

A Financially Independent Idaho

The State of Idaho has an annual budget of over $8 billion.  This money constantly moves into and out of many bank accounts from many State institutions.  However, all of it is kept in commercial banks that charge fees to the State.  Those banks keep some of the interest earned on those accounts for themselves.  Instead of letting the executives and shareholders of Wall Street banks profit from handling the State of Idaho’s monies, I propose we start a Public Bank and keep our money in an institution that only serves the interests of the people of Idaho.       The State of North Dakota has had a Public Bank, for 99 years.  In 2017 the Bank of North Dakota issued a $170 million dividend to the North Dakota’s General Fund to pay for all kinds of State economic development programs – ALL WITH NO INCREASE IN TAXES.  (See website for the Bank of North Dakota here).  We are three times the size of North Dakota.  This could be us in a few years.   How Does a Public Bank Work?

  • A Public Bank doesn’t take consumer deposits. It ONLY takes deposits from the State of Idaho, be they tax receipts, license fees, federal influx of budget obligations.
  • Therefore, it doesn’t compete with private sector banks. In fact, community banks in North Dakota typically partner with the Bank of North Dakota because doing so allows them to do business they would otherwise not do.
  • It can borrow capital at the same low rate given to the biggest commercial banks.
  • Because operating a Public Bank doesn’t include the cost of outrageous executive salaries and bonuses, or an outsized ROI for shareholders, all the money generated from operations belong to the STATE of IDAHO and it NEVER LEAVES THE STATE. The profits that accrue to commercial banks leave the state as profits and never returns.
  • This low cost of borrowing makes an Idaho Public Bank a unique engine for economic development. Like the one in North Dakota, an Idaho Public Bank can provide low interest loans for all kinds of projects such as infrastructure build-out, agricultural development, improvements in transportation, low-cost college loans and first-time home buyer incentives.
  • This one idea will help attract and stimulate small business growth. That means good jobs – not minimum wage jobs and more tax revenues – ALL WITH NO INCREASE IN TAXES.  Look up the Bank of North Dakota annual report and see how well they have done.  Also, look up more at the Public Banking Institute website here to learn more.

Paulette’s Priorities

Education for our future

As a mother, I have witnessed firsthand the shortcomings and successes of Idaho’s education system. As a businesswoman, I understand that investing in education means investing in Idaho’s bottom line. States with strong public schools succeed economically, and it’s no secret that our state’s education system is inadequate. In an analysis by Education Week’s national report card, Idaho received a D-plus this year in education quality. I believe that further investment and innovation in public education will strengthen Idaho’s economy and support its struggling rural areas. We can improve the source of funding to our public schools through smarter spending. By eliminating avoidable costs to our state such as expensive and unnecessary legal conflicts, costly contracts to house Idaho prisoners in other states, and tax loopholes for big corporations, we will have more money to direct to our state’s students.

Universal Preschool

My first priority is to invest in an opt-in statewide universal preschool program, where these additional education dollars will have the highest return for our students. Child development research shows us that children learn best and retain the most information between the ages of 0 to 5. Public preschool will prepare all Idaho children to enter elementary school with basic language proficiency and social skills, ensuring a higher level of equity within our school environments and fostering continued learning.

Fair Teacher Pay

Idaho’s teachers are the heart of our education system, and we need to treat them like the vital asset they are. If we fail to prioritize fair teacher compensation, our public schools will have no legs to stand on – in order to remain competitive, and to attract and retain our best teachers, Idaho needs to pay its educators salaries comparable to those in surrounding states. During the last legislative. session, I helped introduce a bill that would forgive teachers’ student loan debts if they worked in our rural schools. Incentive programs like this one help create education equity across our state.

Affordable Higher Education

Many Idaho families struggle to afford the cost of in-state college tuition in Idaho. As governor, I will help ease the financial burden of higher education by investing in technical and career training programs for high school students – particularly in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math), a field that yielded 7,000 unfilled jobs in Idaho last year alone. I will also increase funding for AP (Advanced Placement) classes and dual credit classes in high schools, so that students can get a running start on their University credits and complete their college degrees sooner and at a lower cost to them and their families. Digital education opportunities, like online classes for college credit, also help increase the affordability of higher education. As governor, I will push for the expansion of these opportunities to ensure that every Idahoan is equipped to compete in the American economy of the future.

Healthcare for all

In Idaho, we are committed to taking care of one another, regardless of our differing circumstances. That’s why I believe that affordable and accessible healthcare is a basic human right. For too long, too many Idahoans have struggled without sufficient access to healthcare across our state.

Medicaid Expansion

The first piece of the solution is to provide adequate funding for healthcare services. Right now, 62,000 Idahoans have been left in a coverage gap – they don’t qualify for Medicaid but can’t afford to purchase their own health insurance. As governor, I will support expanding Medicaid to provide everyone in Idaho with the primary care and coverage they deserve. This will save Idaho and our local counties $34 million per year by avoiding the medical costs of uninsured patients – funds that we will reinvest back into our local hospitals and communities.

Building a Medical School

The second piece of the solution is to increase the number of medical professionals in Idaho, including doctors, nurses, physician assistants, and pharmacists. We have too few doctors and our facilities are inadequate to serve the needs of our population. An urgent crisis like this one demands a bold solution and strong leadership: Idaho deserves its own public medical school. Economic development data from the Association of American Medical Colleges shows that each medical school established in a state creates $1 billion of economic impact in that state. We have three outstanding research institutions in Idaho – the University of Idaho, Boise State University, and Idaho State University – and we have the resources to follow the model provided by a neighboring state, where two public universities founded a joint medical school program. As governor, I will work with the presidents of our three major research institutions to establish an inter-professional, community-based medical school that will recruit Idaho students, train them as medical professionals, and retain them in Idaho’s community healthcare centers.

Land protection and conservation

Here in Idaho, our land is not only our heritage, but also the source of our livelihood. It serves as a valuable asset to our state – one that should be shared by everyone, not auctioned off to wealthy individuals and big corporations for private profit. As an asset, it must be protected and preserved for Idaho’s future generations.

Public Lands in Public Hands

As governor, I will ensure that all public lands remain in the custody of the public, so we can continue to enjoy and utilize them. As a member of Idaho’s land board, I have long been a supporter of the Good Neighbor Authority Agreement, which allows the state of Idaho to co-manage public lands with the U.S. Forest Service for healthy forest management and continued public access.

Conservation & Cleanup

We can’t stop at mere access to our lands. Idaho’s environment is being degraded by abuse and overuse, which threatens both our health and our economic growth. Idaho is home to four of the ten most polluted school counties in the United States. Every day that our leaders fail to clean up this contamination and neglect to enforce existing air and water pollution laws, they endanger the ability of our children to learn and grow.

Combating Climate Change

I believe in science: climate change is real, and in Idaho, it is one of the greatest environmental and economic challenges we face. The increased intensity and frequency of droughts, fires, and flooding is hitting us at the heart of our most profitable industries: agriculture, timber, and tourism. As governor, I will work to position Idaho as a leader in developing solutions that mitigate the effects of climate change. We will take responsibility for the protection of our environment while positioning our state to prosper in the rapidly-growing clean energy and sustainability sector.

Prosperous Idaho

It’s a simple fact that Idaho’s economy is suffering. Local businesses struggle to keep doors open and many workers cannot provide for their families on a full-time salary. These economic realities hit our rural towns the hardest. As Governor, I will revitalize our economy in every part of our state by investing in innovation and expanding opportunity, especially in rural areas.   We must invest in our future. If we don’t, thousands of jobs will go unfilled, training programs will go underfunded, education goals will continue to go unmet, and we will lose our workforce to states that align more with their personal values. I will not only build a culture of innovation, I will build a culture of acceptance to go alongside it.

A Livable Wage

Idaho ranks 50 th in the nation for livable wage. Idahoans who work full time shouldn’t be living in poverty, yet our state has many people working themselves into a status that’s below the poverty line. Even though they’re working more, they’re earning less. Idaho Our state has the lowest minimum wage in the West, but has the highest number of minimum-wage workers. Low wages and the minimum wage rate affect everyone, not just teenagers working after-school jobs. The current minimum wage of $7.25/hour was set in 2009. As we all know, inflation and the cost of living have risen significantly since then. The state’s refusal to let communities set a minimum wage that’s right for them is just another example of government interference. Local communities should have the right to set a wage that voters in their area feel are fair for them. Right now, our communities don’t have that right, and that’s wrong. As Governor, I will look at every opportunity to raise the minimum wage, including indexing, which is done in fifteen states currently. I will work with the Idaho State Legislature and in collaboration with the business community on a graduated plan to begin raising the minimum wage in manageable increments – an initiative other cities and states have successfully accomplished across the country. As part of my pro-family platform, and as a mother, I will fight for Idaho parents to make a living wage that supports their families, allowing them to be less stressed about their pocketbooks and more focused on raising their kids with the values important to them. It’s past time to raise the state’s minimum wage above $7.25/hour. Too many families are struggling to survive on too little income. I will promote local control, which will allow local communities to raise wages as they see fit.

Taxes

According to the Institute on Taxation & Economic Policy, our poorest neighbors spend more of their income on state and local taxes than wealthier Idahoans do. Our lowest- earning 20 percent (those earning less than $20k/year) spend 9% of their family income on taxes, whereas our highest-earning 20 percent (those earning at least $88k/year) spend 7.5%. Idaho’s tax structure unduly punishes our poor working families. Low- income Idahoans were hit hardest by property and sales taxes. These property tax increases are the result of school district levies, which were necessitated by the state’s failure to properly fund education. The wealthiest 20% spent less of their incomes on property taxes (1.6%) and sales/excise taxes (1.7%). The wealthiest 1% in the state spent just 0.9 percent of earnings on sales and excise taxes. All of this is to say that, proportionately, Idaho’s poorest families are paying the most in taxes and I don’t think this is right. As Governor, my goal is to cut the sales tax in half and eliminate the tax on groceries, which will help our citizens who need it the most. We will incentivize small business over big business and fill the empty store fronts on our rural main streets. In evaluating policies that will come across my desk as the Governor of Idaho, I will always ask these questions: Does it help Idaho families? Does it help our towns and cities, our kids, and our future? If the answer is yes, those are the policies I will support.

Innovation

Here in Idaho, we value self-sufficiency, and we have a legacy of embracing homegrown clean energy – our Boise Statehouse is the only state capitol building in the country heated by geothermal water, a resource we are fortunate to have in abundance in Idaho. Clean energy technology is one of the fastest-growing sectors in the world, with solar energy creating jobs at seventeen times the rate of the rest of the U.S. economy. We are fortunate to live in a state with the resources and the talent to compete on the cutting edge of the energy industry. As governor, I will invest in the expansion and further development of our homegrown energy resources: wind, solar, water, geothermal, and biomass energy. I want to grow Idaho’s information technology sector by investing in STEM education at the high school level, so that our state has the workforce to create and drive a booming tech industry. I will also help foster public-private partnerships between our universities, technology companies, and the Idaho National Lab in order to expand job opportunities for Idaho’s students in the information technology sector. As Governor, I plan to promote research and development around advanced technologies in the agriculture and timber industries, which will cut costs and enhance sustainability. I will fight to bring innovative practices to Idaho, such as cross-laminated timber, a sustainable, wood-based building material, and I will advance future-focused policy, like legislation that allows ranchers and farmers to increase earnings by developing both agriculture and energy products.

Cannabis

As Governor, I will decriminalize cannabis use and industrial hemp production in my first 100 days in office, and will work with the legislature to implement smart, compassionate, and revenue-positive access to cannabis for medical use. And this is not just for one type of oil, and not just what the pharmaceutical industry is synthesizing.Decriminalizing cannabis use and industrial hemp production is very good for the overall health of our state (including fiscal). Through the legalization of cannabis, Washington State generated $306 million last year, and Colorado accrues an average of $140 million annually. Colorado dedicates its first $40 million in revenue to “BEST”, their state’s public education fund from Colorado’s 15% excise tax on wholesale marijuana. These funds are dedicated to the renewal and construction of Colorado schools, along with bullying prevention programs, suicide prevention (Idaho has one of the highest in the nation), dropout prevention, and early literacy programs (which is similar to my Universal Pre-K Plan).

Tourism

To boost economic activity in rural areas, we must harness the full potential of Idaho’s $3.4 billion tourism industry – an opportunity that our state’s leaders have failed to cash in on. By implementing a strategic national marketing campaign, we can attract many more visitors to enjoy the locally-grown food, iconic rivers, and incredible wilderness areas of rural Idaho. As Governor, I will propose a plan for the implementation of a statewide rural transportation system, which will link rural areas with urban areas to optimize tourism opportunities in small communities.

Internet Equality

Idaho struggles with a digital divide – while most of Idaho has high-speed internet, 21% of our state is considered underserved, or lacking sufficient connectivity. As governor, I will work to expand broadband access to these areas. While 83% of the population on Idaho’s tribal lands is underserved, the most connected tribal community is my own, the Coeur d’Alene tribe. I served on the Coeur d’Alene Tribal Council when we constructed a wireless and Fiber-to-the-home network across the reservation, so I know what it takes to provide rural communities with the internet connectivity they require to connect and thrive in the modern economy.

A Financially Independent Idaho

The State of Idaho has an annual budget of over $8 billion.  This money constantly moves into and out of many bank accounts from many State institutions.  However, all of it is kept in commercial banks that charge fees to the State.  Those banks keep some of the interest earned on those accounts for themselves.  Instead of letting the executives and shareholders of Wall Street banks profit from handling the State of Idaho’s monies, I propose we start a Public Bank and keep our money in an institution that only serves the interests of the people of Idaho.     The State of North Dakota has had a Public Bank, for 99 years.  In 2017 the Bank of North Dakota issued a $170 million dividend to the North Dakota’s General Fund to pay for all kinds of State economic development programs – ALL WITH NO INCREASE IN TAXES.  (See website for the Bank of North Dakota here).  We are three times the size of North Dakota.  This could be us in a few years.   How Does a Public Bank Work?

  • A Public Bank doesn’t take consumer deposits. It ONLY takes deposits from the State of Idaho, be they tax receipts, license fees, federal influx of budget obligations.
  • Therefore, it doesn’t compete with private sector banks. In fact, community banks in North Dakota typically partner with the Bank of North Dakota because doing so allows them to do business they would otherwise not do.
  • It can borrow capital at the same low rate given to the biggest commercial banks.
  • Because operating a Public Bank doesn’t include the cost of outrageous executive salaries and bonuses, or an outsized ROI for shareholders, all the money generated from operations belong to the STATE of IDAHO and it NEVER LEAVES THE STATE. The profits that accrue to commercial banks leave the state as profits and never returns.
  • This low cost of borrowing makes an Idaho Public Bank a unique engine for economic development. Like the one in North Dakota, an Idaho Public Bank can provide low interest loans for all kinds of projects such as infrastructure build-out, agricultural development, improvements in transportation, low-cost college loans and first-time home buyer incentives.
  • This one idea will help attract and stimulate small business growth. That means good jobs – not minimum wage jobs and more tax revenues – ALL WITH NO INCREASE IN TAXES.  Look up the Bank of North Dakota annual report and see how well they have done.  Also, look up more at the Public Banking Institute website here to learn more.

As Governor, I will decriminalize cannabis use and industrial hemp production in my first 100 days in office, and will work with the legislature to implement smart, compassionate, and revenue-positive access to cannabis for medical use. And this is not just for one type of oil, and not just what the pharmaceutical industry is synthesizing.Decriminalizing cannabis use and industrial hemp production is very good for the overall health of our state (including fiscal). Through the legalization of cannabis, Washington State generated $306 million last year, and Colorado accrues an average of $140 million annually. Colorado dedicates its first $40 million in revenue to “BEST”, their state’s public education fund from Colorado’s 15% excise tax on wholesale marijuana. These funds are dedicated to the renewal and construction of Colorado schools, along with bullying prevention programs, suicide prevention (Idaho has one of the highest in the nation), dropout prevention, and early literacy programs (which is similar to my Universal Pre-K Plan).

Tourism

To boost economic activity in rural areas, we must harness the full potential of Idaho’s $3.4 billion tourism industry – an opportunity that our state’s leaders have failed to cash in on. By implementing a strategic national marketing campaign, we can attract many more visitors to enjoy the locally-grown food, iconic rivers, and incredible wilderness areas of rural Idaho. As Governor, I will propose a plan for the implementation of a statewide rural transportation system, which will link rural areas with urban areas to optimize tourism opportunities in small communities.

Internet Equality

Idaho struggles with a digital divide – while most of Idaho has high-speed internet, 21% of our state is considered underserved, or lacking sufficient connectivity. As governor, I will work to expand broadband access to these areas. While 83% of the population on Idaho’s tribal lands is underserved, the most connected tribal community is my own, the Coeur d’Alene tribe. I served on the Coeur d’Alene Tribal Council when we constructed a wireless and Fiber-to-the-home network across the reservation, so I know what it takes to provide rural communities with the internet connectivity they require to connect and thrive in the modern economy.