Duncan Palmatier

(candidate for 2002 State Senator, District 6)

1. Do you favor the Indian Gaming Initiative, Prop. 1?
Absolutely! The issue of Indian gaming has been on the ballot before and Idaho voters have made their support clear. Nevertheless, the current Republican leadership is bent on ending Indian gaming and destroying the casinos that have provided employment after decades of economic hardship. Toward this end, the Republicans ordered up a sham study of Indian gaming, finding $60,000 to pay for it. In a budget year in which the current Republican leadership has imposed drastic cuts to the University of Idaho, higher education in general, and the public schools, it was shameful to fund a report by an organization known for producing anti-Indian gaming studies.

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. Nor is it wise to use, as the current Republican leadership intends to, the reserve "rainy day" fund, the Universities' construction funds, and the annual tobacco payments -- all one-time money -- to balance a budget rendered short by the irresponsible income and corporate tax cut of 2001. The 2001 tax cut recklessly squandered Idaho's record $300 million surplus, and provided only an $80 annual income tax savings to most Idahoans. Even Republican Governor Kempthorne warned that, with the slumping economy, the 2001 tax cut was too large. But, the Republican leadership went ahead with the cut and sent the State into budget crisis that has been devastating to the University of Idaho and our schools. Moreover, the income tax "cut" succeeded only in shifting the tax burden to the property tax by forcing most school districts to seek supplemental levies. Having bungled the budget, the Republican Party leaders are using every penny they can get their hands on, such as the tobacco settlement, in an utterly cynical attempt to hide their fiscal irresponsibility until after the election.

Idaho's financial crisis has been accomplished by the current Republican-in-group behind closed doors, in their party caucus, virtually without debate. With a stranglehold on the legislature -- Idaho is the most Republican state in the nation (the Republican Party controls 90% of the seats in the Idaho House and Senate) -- the current Republican leadership has been able to handle issues in closed caucus, count their votes in private, and kill debate when they want. So it has been with the decisions to slash funding to the University and the schools. As a result of the imbalance, even our own Republican Representative Tom Trail was unable to have heard a motion to hold back the 2001 tax cuts in order to cope with the budget crisis -- the current Republican leadership killed it dead.

But, when the State's savings have been squandered, the election will be over and Idahoans, both Republicans and Democrats, will finally have to decide how to balance the budget and how to prioritize spending.

If voters re-elect Republicans, the Republican leadership cell will have the mandate to continue closed government and to slash even further the education budget. The consequences will be devastating for the University of Idaho and our schools. In turn, when higher education is eventually rebuilt, the institutions closest to the legislature in Boise, such as Boise State University, will likely benefit disproportionately. THE ONLY MESSAGE THAT WILL BE HEARD IN BOISE IS WHEN THE REPUBLICANS LOSE ELECTIONS and some political balance is restored.

Even former Republican Governor Phil Batt has stated that Idaho needs more Democrats to bring the legislature back into balance. My opponent, Senator Gary Schroeder, has held office for ten years. He has held office while funding for the University of Idaho and our schools has been slashed. The results have been disastrous for the University, education, and our district. As voters make their decisions, they should wonder: Are things better or worse? IT IS TIME FOR A CHANGE!

3. Would you ever consider increasing taxes in Idaho?
Yes. Our Republican Representative Tom Trail's proposal to hold back the 2001 tax cut should be revived in the next session. Republican House Leader Bruce Newcomb has vowed that he holds sacred the 2001 tax cut that benefits mainly the richest Idahoans. If the current Republican super-duper-majority is re-elected, a hold back is doomed. But, if voters send a message and elect more Democrats, it will be possible to get the hold back proposal heard. In 1984, Idaho's universities faced a budget crisis. At that time the legislature was more evenly balanced between Republicans and Democrats. The legislature met to debate a solution. They met in public, not behind closed doors. They debated before the people of Idaho, not amongst a few party bosses. They argued and fought, bargained and compromised, shouted and pleaded. In short, they practiced Democracy, and they agreed to the last 1% sales tax hike. The current Idaho Legislature is broken. The current Republican leadership conducts the business of our government behind closed doors and strong arms members of their own party in order to kill debate. We have no clue about the deals and arguments made in the Republicans' closed caucuses. But, we know that the imbalance allows them to kill debate, and sometimes even prevent a measure from being heard, as was the case with Representative Trail's hold back proposal, term limits and the devastating cuts to the University of Idaho and our schools. This stops the political system from working. Different views are silenced; compromise is never an issue; amendments, horse trading, argument, and debate are all impossible. Idaho now faces an empty budget. The current Republican leadership squandered the state's surplus and rainy day savings, and THE REPUBLICANS HAVE FAILED IDAHO'S UNIVERSITIES AND SCHOOLS! We have a fine, old mess here. One way or another, difficult decisions will be made. Priorities will be decided. Will prisons get more money, as they did in the last session, or will education take priority? Idaho wants these decisions made in open, in a fair debate, on the floor of the Legislature, not behind closed doors! I say, let's give Democracy a chance! A vote to re-elect Republicans in this district will serve to deliver a mandate to the current Republican leadership and continued cuts to the University of Idaho and our schools will follow without challenge.

Additional tax measures also include changes to the sales tax. In this pre-election season, the Republicans have blithely dangled before the voters a 1% sales tax increase, but simultaneously they decry it and refuse to commit to anything before the election. The Republicans have not mentioned that the increased sales tax hits hardest the least wealthy, that it merely shifts the tax burden from one type of tax to another, and that, for our border district, a sales tax increase will harm retailers who attract Washington customers trying to avoid their state's higher sales tax.

Finally, although rejected in the last sessions by the current Republican leadership, more tax auditors should be hired in order to collect taxes. This strategy has proven very effective in other states, where the cost of hiring auditors has been an insignificant portion of the additional tax collections.

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?
Idaho must confront the reality that its death penalty law is unconstitutional. A new law will have to be crafted that is constitutional.

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 subscribe to Moscow Vision 2020 and, if elected, I will post messages on it concerning Idaho Senate issues.

6. What book(s) are you now reading?
On my bedstand are books I am reading, some quickly, some slowly. The following is a complete list: Mick Walker, "Ducati, Taglioni and His World Beating Motorcycles"; Edmund Morris, "Theodore Rex"; Peter Egan, "Leanings"; Ed McDonough, "Ferrari 156 Sharknose"; Garry Willis, "Saint Augustine"; Michael Sheara, "The Killer Angels"; Charles J. Reid, Jr., "Tyburn, Thantos, and Marxist Historiography: The Case of the London Hanged", and "Natural Rights in the Decretionist Literature of the 13th Century"; V.S. Naipaul, "A Bend in the River"; and Alexandre Dumas, "The Count of Monte Cristo".

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

I am married to Monique C. Lillard, and we have two young children. Monique is a professor at the College of Law.

We live in Moscow, near Saint Mary's Catholic Church, where we go to mass. I was Latah County Commissioner in 1994-95, during which time I succeeded in establishing a strong working relationship between the County and the City of Moscow. I am proud that, to this day, city and county representatives remember that effort. I am a commissioner on the Urban Renewal Agency for the City of Moscow. I have a Bachelor of Science in Physics from the University of Idaho and I am a member of the Physics Advisory Committee. I own a law firm in Moscow that specializes in patent infringement lawsuits. Three lawyers work for me, Lisa Case, Andrea Guss, and Gary Peterson. Most of our work is for multi-national computer companies. For example we represent D-Link, one of the world's largest computer networking products companies, Chicony Electronics, the world's largest computer keyboard manufacturer, and many other computer products companies. We also represent the Idaho Research Foundation, the technology transfer office of the University of Idaho. I have done work for NASA's technology transfer office in Hampton, Virginia, writing patents and patent-related legal papers.

My firm also represents Idaho businesses and inventors. I have first hand experience with companies trying to get started here. These businesses need encouragement and help to overcome the obstacles of financing and regulations. As the owner of my business, I am personally familiar with how hard it is to run a business. If anyone has questions for me, please contact me at the email address above, or call me (892-2962).

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