(candidate for 2002 State Senator, District 6)
1. Do you favor the Indian Gaming Initiative, Prop. 1?
I was Senate Chairman of the Legislative Indian Affairs Committee in
1993-94. During that time my Committee attempted to pursue economic
development opportunities for Idaho's five federally recognized tribes to
address the high unemployment rates on the reservations. The legislative
body would not co-operate in passing any meaningful legislation.
Casinos provide economic development for Tribal members at this time in
history. They will probably be short term in nature, however, because
the dollars spent in these endeavors are being stretched ever thinner as
increasing numbers of governments and tribes seek to attract gambling
dollars. I also fully understand that gaming has associated social costs
that do not show up when we analyze economic development data.
Federal law provides that Idaho's five federally recognized Indian Tribes
may engage in the same class of gambling as does the State of Idaho. The
State has a lottery, which is class III gaming, and the tribes can
therefore have the same class of gaming. The law also allows states and
tribes to negotiate the terms of gambling operations. The pull tab
machines are a point of controversy, with the State of Idaho arguing they
are the same as slot machines and the Tribes contending they are the same
as the lottery tickets.
An attempt at a compact between the State and the Tribes failed in the
Senate. If the initiative fails or is overturned in the courts, the
State and the Tribes will most likely again attempt to agree on a compact
spelling out what kinds of machines and how many machines the Tribes may
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. The intent of the Millenium Fund was that these dollars be placed in
this Fund and the earnings be used to address prevention and treatment
Allow me to make two points.
A) To date, the legislature does not have an effective method to allocate
these funds. The legislature has a committee which receives requests and
then decides which requests should be funded. In January 2001, proposals
before the committee were, for the most part, abruptlyt aside in favor of
recommendations from the executive branch. The Legislature should
establish long term goals and then judge proposals against these goals
rather than simply funding the best proposals put forth.
I serve on the Safe and Drug Free Schools Advisory Committee. I believe
that one of the most effective tools we have in preventing the use and
abuse of drugs, alcohol, tobacco, and other substances is education. It
is vitally important that we tell our young children what is right and
wrong, the results of abuse, and what behavior society expects. The Safe
and Drug Free Schools is funded by federal dollars and by state dollars
and fulfills this need. The state's portion of funding for the program
comes from a ten cents per pack tax on cigarettes. After we passed this
tax by a vote of 18-17, JFAC took half for juvenile justice the following
year. In addition, they then took $250,000 to fund the adult forensics
lab for the Idaho State Police. This quarter million was taken from the
schools' half, which is now a bit over $4 million annually. To make the
program effective, as was originally intended, we asked for dollars from
the Millenium Fund to bring the Safe and Drug Free Schools program to $7
million annually. I was amazed that this worthy program, in line with the
intent of the tobacco money settlement, was turned down and the dollars
were spent elsewhere.
B) Now the funds have been used to balance the budget! How terrible!
These funds should be restored in their entirety. I would suggest that
the Legislature can do so in a manner which will also solve another
problem, which is the inability by the legislature to deal with surplus
revenues in a meaningful way. We should provide that when we have
surpluses develop, the funds from the Millenium Fund should be restored
before other uses for the surplus are considered.
3. Would you ever consider increasing taxes in Idaho?
Our schools and our children have always been and will remain my top
priority. Our children deserve a chance to succeed in life and they do
not receive that chance when we increase class sizes and lay off teachers.
Nor do they receive that chance when teachers leave Idaho for higher pay
in California and Nevada and we become a training ground for entry level
teachers. I have voted against most public school budgets because as a
percent of budget, adjusted for property tax relief, the amount keeps
declining. I voted against the holdbacks for public education and our
colleges and universities and supported a motion to send the holdback bill
to the amending order to restore full funding for education. It is no
coincidence that Connecticut has both the highest test scores and the best
Higher education, in both our technical programs and our colleges and
universities, is vital to the future economic development of this state.
Businesses evaluate the quality of our education system when they make
decisions on whether to move here or not. Higher education improves not
only the life of the person who obtains that education, but the life of
everyone else in society as well. Dr. Dale Gentry, dean of the College of
Education at the U of I, noted in a news article upon his retirement that:
"If the education system deteriorates, it creates a condition where people
don't want to move to the state and businesses don't want to relocate
here, which can cause long-term damage to the state as a whole." I agree
and I have taken special notice of the decline in the percentage of the
budget spent on higher education. It has declined from 20.8% in 1975 to
less than 11% today. The difference is made up by raising student fees,
which is a tax on parents and the students attending our colleges and
universities. I will continue to fight to reverse this trend.
We need to raise the revenues necessary to fund education, for both K-12
and the college and university level. A possible solution might be the
increase of the sales tax by 1% for one year coupled with the creation of
a committee to look at sales tax equity. House Majority Leader Frank
Bruneel of Lewiston has a bill which would actually lower the rate to 4%
and provide additional funding by expanding it to services. A committee
would have a year to look at this proposal, and others, and make
recommendations to the 2004 session. I want to emphasize that WE NEED TO
FIND THE FUNDS TO ADEQUATELY FUND EDUCATION! I would support these
measures if they fund improvements in education, particularly for dealing
with current, temporary economic problems, rather than just general growth
in government or building new prisons.
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?
There is currently a moratorium on executions in Idaho, imposed by the
Supreme Court. The Court has ruled that juries, not judges, must decide
the penalties where the death sentence is possible. Idaho does not
execute many people and would certainly not execute anyone, in violation
of the Court edict, before the Legislature convenes in January. I would
expect that we will change Idaho law to meet the Supreme Court's
guidelines early in the next legislative session.
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?
The nice thing about a forum like Vision 2020 is that it allows direct
access among citizens, without intermediaries. Traditional media have
time and space limitations that don't allow for details discussions of the
issues. The Vision 2020 questions are always refreshing and I don't have
to wonder how they will be edited!
E-mail is a wonderful tool for communicating with constituents and I do so
on a daily basis. As a legislator, I face the same problems with e-mail
that most people do. Most of the messages I receive are "spam"
(unsolicited commercial), bulk mails, or chain letters from "think tanks"
or lobbying groups. Once I have sorted these out, I appreciate hearing
from individual constituents and addressing their concerns. I would
support legislation similar to the State of Washington's anti-spam law
which has been upheld by the courts.
I subscribe to Moscow Vision 2020 and have posted messages.
6. What book(s) are you now reading?
The Ottoman Centuries, The Rise and Fall of the Turkish Empire, by Lord
Essentials of Molecular Biology by Freifelder and Malacinski
7. Add your email address and any biographical information you wish.
Gary J. Schroeder
Moscow resident, 33+ years
Veteran, U.S. Navy
Small business owner, 30+ years
Outdoor writer, Publisher
M.S. - University of Idaho , Zoology
There are 24 standing committees in the Idaho Legislature. I have served
as Chairman of the Senate Education Committee for 7 years and I am the
only Committee Chairman from North of Boise.
Other Committees on which I currently serve:
Senate Resource and Environment Committee
Senate Commerce and Human Resources Committee
Legislative Committee on Change in Employee Compensation
Safe and Drug Free Schools Advisory Committee
UI College of Education Advisory Board
Center on Disabilities and Human Development Consumer Advisory Board
Education Commission of the States
1996 - UI Alumni Association: Alumni Service Award
1997 - Idaho Counseling Association: Legislative Advocate Award
1998 - National Federation of the Blind of Idaho: Thelander Award
1999 - Idaho Department of Fish and Game: Special Award
2000 - Food Producers of Idaho: All Star Award
2001 - LCSC: Award for Outstanding Legislative Commitment
2001 - Idaho Education Association: Friend of Education Award