Shirley Ringo

(candidate for 2002 Idaho State Representative, Position B)

1. Do you favor the Indian Gaming Initiative, Prop. 1?
Yes. I think it sad that it has been necessary for Indians to use the initiative process to gain fair treatment. After considerable effort, an agreement was reached with state officials that would have set conditions for continued Indian gaming. The legislation that resulted from the agreement was defeated. This action was a result of political in fighting, with the Indians unfortunately caught in the middle.

The Indians have managed the casinos responsibly, and have taken great pride in the quality of the operation. This business has provided sorely needed employment in the communities. Individuals who, in the past, have had to rely heavily upon public assistance are now contributing instead. Indian gaming generates millions in state and local taxes, and provides money for schools.

This initiative allows Indians to keep the gaming they now have, and controls its growth. It also specifies that schools will be given 5% of the net income. I support this initiative, and expect voters to approve it.

2. Do you believe Idaho should continue to use the Millenium Fund (which was created with money from the tobacco settlement for use in health advocacy) to balance the state budget?
No. I have said that in extreme situations, we might borrow from it, on a short-term basis and with very specific requirements for repayment. However, I don't really like the idea. The money was intended to compensate the state for expenses of tobacco-related health issues, not to relieve us of our financial responsibilities.

This money should not be grabbed by legislators who refuse to assume fiscal responsibility. The cuts in personal income tax enacted in 2001 proved too costly for our weakened economy. The benefits to individuals, as a result of these cuts, were very small when compared to the negative impact on state programs. Rather than taking immediate corrective action, our leaders put us in a state of financial crisis. A raid of the Millenium Fund results from bad decision-making.

3. Would you ever consider increasing taxes in Idaho?
It would be irresponsible to promise voters that I would never consider a tax increase.

First, I think we must assure voters that we will manage funds responsibly. I believe leaders have failed to fully consider expenditures that should be made now to invest in the future. For example, an investment in early childhood programs, such as Head Start, eventually saves money because the children are more successful as adults. The Children's Health Insurance Program gives access to health care that will result in more productivity in school, and fewer health problems later. Failure to provide preventative dental care for adults on Medicaid will eventually prove more costly. Of course, nothing is more shortsighted than failing to invest in education. The tremendous growth of costs in our correction system suggests we need to take a hard look at that and related issues. We spend too much money incarcerating non-violent offenders, where there are better, more effective options available.

I think we can be smarter about how out money is spent. However, there are vital state programs that require consistent financial support. If an increase of revenue is required then it should be done. Our system of taxation must be monitored for its fairness and impact upon Idaho's citizens.

4. The Supreme Court ruled that a death penalty law like Idaho's is unconstitutional. Do you favor a moratorium on executions in Idaho? How should the state revisit the current death penalty law?
I do favor a moratorium on executions, for a reason that goes beyond the law ruling Idaho's death penalty unconstitutional. The death penalty is fundamentally flawed because of the inequities that have been recognized in its administration. Courts of law do not provide a level playing field. Cases where DNA evidence has exonerated people who have been convicted raises the question of how many innocent people may have been executed.

In terms of revisiting the law, we should not consider continuing the death penalty until the issue of fairness has been addressed. Further, we should study the merits of the death penalty as a deterrent, and compare the cost of using the death penalty as a sentence to the cost of life imprisonment. If these questions are answered, and the decision is made to re-institute the penalty, we can then address the issues which caused our law to be ruled unconstitutional.

5. Is it important to you to connect with voters (answer questions and receive input) via email? Do you plan to subscribe to Moscow Vision 2020 if elected? Do you plan to post messages to Moscow Vision 2020 if elected?
I think it is important to connect with voters in any way possible. There are many people who choose to communicate views through Vision 2020, so this will provide a useful tool. I am currently a subscriber to Vision 2020, and will certainly plan to continue to subscribe, whether or not I am elected. If elected, I will post messages, as I did when I served in the 1999-2000 term.

6. What book(s) are you now reading?
I am reading John Adams, by David McCullough; Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, by Rebecca Wells; and Frank Church, D.C., and Me, by Bill Hall.

7. Add your email address and any biographical information you wish.
Shirley Ringo

A top priority in my life is my family. I love them with a passion.

I graduated from John Rogers High School in Spokane. The hobbies that filled my time were band, orchestra, and tennis. I graduated from Washington State University in 1962, with a degree in mathematics, a few hours short of a degree in music, and a teaching certification. In 1965, I completed work for a M.A.T. degree in Mathematics. I was an educator for nearly 40 years.

I served in the Legislature from 1999-2000.

So far, my candidacy has been endorsed by:

Idaho Education Association
American Federation of Teachers, University of Idaho
Coeur d'Alene Tribe
Professional Firefighters of Idaho
Carpenter Local #313
Pacific Northwest Regional Council of Carpenters

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