A New Direction for Idaho? Maybe.
We had an opportunity this past Friday to meet with Tom Ahlquist’s campaign manager David Johnson to discuss some of his candidate’s positions.
I have to admit I was impressed that he had any number of decent answers to our questions, although without much detail. The broad strokes looked good and were basic boilerplate from Ahlquist’s website, but we want to know just how he will attain the goals he is telling us he wants to achieve.
Let’s first start off by seeing where Idaho currently stands in the rankings in the U.S. overall. Our overall ranking is #32, Education #40, Healthcare #40, Crime and Corrections #9, Infrastructure #21, Opportunity #39, Economy #8, and Government #37. These rankings were formulated by using sixty metrics measuring outcomes for citizens. We don’t have the time or space to cover all of these items, but we will touch on some of the important ones.
Let’s start with education as it is always a hot topic in our state and one of the largest budget items, costing taxpayers 1.68 billion in the next year including the 6.3% increase. That is a fairly large expenditure considering Idaho ranks #40 overall in the U.S. for education. Tom says on his website, “As governor, he will demand excellence in our children’s education so they will be successful in the modern economy.”
Where Tom seems to be in sync with the more forward thinkers in Idaho is that he sees the “need to close the gap between what Idaho businesses need in their employees and what our schools are teaching.” He wants to close Idaho’s talent gap by ensuring our students learn the skills needed to successfully compete in a continually changing job market. He believes in creating partnerships between local business and our schools for students not interested in continuing on to college. I was expecting some mention of charter schools and choice in education, but it does not appear that this is on their radar as of yet. There was also no mention of the current funding methods for our schools, but it does appear that they are aware of the over-abundance of administrative personnel on the payroll.
On taxes and regulations, it appears Mr. Alhquist has a clear understanding that Idaho is not very competitive when compared to the surrounding states. It looks like Tom would like to reform the tax code but there were no specifics. Like the other candidates, he is in support of more job creation and better-paying jobs but is a bit short on how to accomplish that goal. He is the first candidate I have heard say that it’s your money we’re spending; this in itself was a breath of fresh air. We would be remiss if we did not mention that he certainly knows how to create jobs with the Gardner Group; the bigger question is if he can do it without using our money when it comes to his “Urban Renewal Projects”?
Abortion, EPA, and Marriage
We did not explicitly ask if he was pro-life as we expected him to be in that camp, being a doctor and a very religious person. His website is quite clear on his position on second amendment rights as he says, “He will oppose any legislation that weakens the constitutional right to bear arms by responsible, law-abiding citizens.” He realizes we are an agricultural state, and he strongly supports farmers and ranchers and wants to keep the federal government off their backs when it comes to controlling our water and EPA regulations. Tom also believes in the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman. We’re not sure how well that is going to go over with the voters of the LGBT community, but the conservatives will love it.
Corruption and Cronyism
What was really refreshing was our conversation about the corruption that appears in many corners of our government and how there is a serious need to purge the crony attitudes and to clean up the favoritism that has played such a large role in the awarding of contracts by our government agencies. Does the Wi-Fi school contract that cost taxpayers tens of millions ring a bell? Tom also wants to cut the budget, and he has said publicly that he wants to cut $100 million in 100 days. Definitely a worthy quest, but the sixty-four thousand dollar question is what—and who—will be cut?
On the Subject of healthcare, we were wondering how someone who has been in the system for as long as he has would be able to deal with the Medical Mafia that basically runs healthcare in our state. Surprisingly, it appears he is aware of the problems and even wants to do a bit of reform, but where will he start? On his website, it says he will implement solutions based on personal accountability, protect the doctor-patient relationship and promote competition between providers and insurance companies. That’s a pretty large task in and of itself.
I did remind Mr. Johnson that there is little or no competition in healthcare insurance currently in our state because of the in-network system that tends to keep outside insurers from even attempting to offer coverage here. I also reminded him that you not only need patient accountability but also doctor accountability for results. We have little to no transparency when it comes to costs for procedures but that appears to be part of their plan. I mentioned that we need more freedom in healthcare choices when it comes to choosing allopathic or alternative and complementary medicine professionals, but I don’t believe this is something they have thought about. Washington State has solved this problem by requiring insurance companies to offer complementary and alternative insurance coverage which has saved them tens of millions in healthcare costs while improving patient results. Even the Affordable Care Act had a non-discrimination clause (Section 2706) to allow for complementary and alternative choice.
We are hoping to get an audience with Mr. Alhquist himself in the near future, and we hope to see more detail regarding what he is planning for our state should he become our next governor. Until then, don’t believe any “Fake News” from our liberal media friends.
“We Get the Government We Deserve”