Gary Schroeder

(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 have.

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 programs.

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 paid teachers.

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 Kinross

Essentials of Molecular Biology by Freifelder and Malacinski

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

Gary J. Schroeder
Age 57
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

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