Mark Solomon

(candidate for 2004 Idaho State Representative, Position A)

1. Next summer, Idaho's 6% sales tax is scheduled to revert to 5% and the recent additional cigarette tax is scheduled to be eliminated. Do you support or would you rescind those scheduled tax roll-backs?
Starting in 2001, the Republican-dominated Idaho Legislature has been in thrall to its ultra-conservative wing in matters fiscal. They have systematically slashed taxes and decimated budgets. The drop in revenue resulting from the 2001 income and capital gains tax cuts so imperiled the state's ability to meet the less-than-bare-bones state budget that the Legislature reluctantly agreed to a temporary 1% increase in the sales tax.

The sales tax by nature is a regressive tax: it hits those on the lower end of the income scale harder than those higher up. Unlike the income tax which is based on the amount you earn, the sales tax is based on how much you spend.

When the Legislature voted for the income/capital gains tax cuts and the sales tax increase (my opponent, Tom Trail voted for both), they also took "fairness" out of the tax system. Analysis done by Judy Brown of the Idaho Center on Budget and Tax Policy ( clearly shows that the lowest income households pay the largest share of their income in both income and sales taxes. This is not fair. Indeed, it is not conscionable.

If elected, I will do my utmost to restore fairness to the tax system, starting with urging restoration of the income and capital gains tax cut in 2001. As a stopgap measure to prevent further erosion of state support of education and other necessary programs, I support extension of the current 6% sales tax rate.

But it isn't fair.

2. The Idaho State Superintendent of Public Instruction has charged that the State Board of Education has recently expanded into areas of responsibility rightfully belonging to the Superintendent's office. Do you agree? If so, what will you do about it?
Absolutely agree. By approving the Governor's budget requests for the SBOE and in approving his nominees for the SBOE, the Legislature has proven to be a willing partner in what appears to be a movement to strip the citizens of this state of their constitutional right to oversee public education by electing an independent State Superintendent of Public Instruction. The "revolving door" debacle of employees of the SBOE leaving state employ to work for companies benefiting from their prior public decisions should be illegal. One bill I will carry if elected will make such relationships illegal as they are in most of the other 50 states.

More to the point, we must be electing Democrats to the Legislature. Until a balance of power is restored to Idaho government, the abuse of power by the Republican leadership as most egregiously evidenced in their vendetta against Democratic Superintendent of Public Instruction Marilyn Howard, will continue.

3. Do you think it is possible to increase state funding for the University of Idaho? Do you support an increase in state funding for the University of Idaho? If so, what specific measures will you support to fund that increase?
We HAVE to increase funding for the UI. The UI represents our state's future and is the economic engine that drives Latah County's economy. We can not allow the budget attacks on the UI to continue. General fund expenditures as a ratio of personal income DECREASED 1.2% from 1988-2003. All other state general fund expenditures totaled either stayed flat (public schools) or increased.

First, as detailed in my response to Question #1, we must restore tax fairness and in doing so, increase the state revenue stream. Repealing the income/capital gains tax cuts alone would provide an additional $110-$150 million annually (depending on the strength of the state's economy).

None of this will be easy given the history of the Legislature. Latah County and the UI need a strong,vigorous voice, now.

4. Would you support a state constitutional amendment to make same-gender marriages illegal?
No. Any people who wish to honor their love and commitment by marriage should have that option available as well as the civil rights that accompany such a commitment now granted to heterosexual married couples.

5. How do you plan to use email, websites, or any other communication tools to inform district residents about state programs or to gather input from those residents?
If elected, I will build a website (and maintain its timeliness) to facilitate interactive communication with the district. Have laptop, will email.

6. Please include biographical information about yourself, email, phone, or website contact information, and any other message you want to share with Moscow voters.
This election is not about personalities. It is about ability. I respect my opponent as a decent, honest man. I simply don't believe that the strategy of sending moderate Republican's to Boise to advocate for our county, for public education and for the University of Idaho has worked. The proof is in the budget numbers, the overcrowded schools, the threat of entire department closures at the UI, and virtually any other measure one can propose. We need a true opposition to restore accountability to Idaho government. It would be my honor to be part of the balancing force.

I am a former Latah County Commissioner, a small business owner, a blacksmith/welder by trade and a life-long community activist. Sometimes people call me an artist. I have decades of experience tackling seemingly unsolvable problems and forging consensus solutions. My wife, Jeanne Clothiaux (co-owner of the Red Door restaurant), and I live on our homestead at the summit of Moscow Mountain. I have served on numerous governmental boards and committees including the North Central District Health Board, the Region 2 Juvenile Detention Center Board and Latah Health Services Board. I currently serve on DEQ's Clearwater Basin Advisory Group. I am past president of the Idaho Conservation League, former executive director of The Lands Council (a regional environmental group based out of Spokane), an early organizer of Moscow's Renaissance Fair and am active in local civic and environmental issues.

I can be reached at:
(208) 882-5631: campaign headquarters at 208 S. Main, Suite 1, Moscow
Website under construction. Will post to Vision 2020 when up and running.

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