Tom Trail

(candidate for 2002 Idaho State Representative, Position A)

1. Do you favor the Indian Gaming Initiative, Prop. 1?
Yes. I'm very impressed with the improved economic development and quality of living that the Nez Perce and Coeur d Alene tribes have achieved through the utilization of their gambling enterprizes. A recent study indicated that the positive economic benefits also extend to the areas around the tribal area, including the creation of many jobs for workers living outside the reservation.

I've supported the development of a state compact with the tribes. The federal government has strongly urged state governments to develop compacts with the tribes. Gov. Kempthorne has tried to get the Legislature to approve a compact with the tribes and has unfortunately failed because of opposition in the Senate. This is most unfortunate. I will support future developments of a Compact which should include 5% of the gross gambling receipts coming back to the state (several state compacts have this in place), and 1% of the gross designated for support of programs available for counseling and rehabilitation of gambling addicts.

Some legislators claim that gambling is unconstitutional in Idaho. My feeling is that since the citizens approved the lottery a number of years ago that citizens support gambling--the question is to what extent, but let's face it--the State of Idaho is in the gambling business.

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?
I'm basically opposed to this action; however, if Idaho "borrowed" the Millenium Fund monies to balance the budget and issued bonds or notes assuring repayment at a future date, I could support this action. Several other states have followed this procedure.

3. Would you ever consider increasing taxes in Idaho?
This is an excellent question and in my view hits at the point of what are citizens willing to pay to support public and higher education and other state services. A series of public opinion polls conducted by BSU indicate that over 70 per cent of Idahoans are willing to support a sales tax increase to support education and to improve educational facilities. By far the most important priority facing us in the next Legislative session is the funding of K-12 and Higher Education. Constituents I talk to strongly support whatever means necessary to assure the support of education at the current level of support or even greater support. This is the position that I've consistently held.

I've consistently advocated the following fiscal measures to support education:

a. Place a moratorium on the personal income tax cuts passed by the Legislature last year-- the state could realize a gain of more than $80 million/year.

b. Hire more tax auditors--the State Tax Commission estimates that 40,000 non-filers (Idaho citizens) fail to pay $90 million/year. One tax auditor can bring in 7-8 times the amount of his/her salary and benefits. Why should taxpayers be expected to subsidize non-filers. Rep. Young and I proposed to hire 20 new tax auditors in the past session and we lost the vote 48-19.

c. Develop a system and process to review all of the tax exemptions currently in place in the state. I'm developing a bill to accomplish this which I call "The Tax Exemption Accountability bill. Many organizations granted a tax exemption consider this as their right as time goes on, and there is no reporting back or accountability to the Legislature to provide evidence of the benefit of the exemption to the citizens of the state. We must remember that the an exemption is a privilege and not a right granted to an organization or individuals.

A systematic review of all exemptions over a period of 3-5 years should be set up on a permanent basis. Organizations who cannot demonstrate a positive benefit to the state would lose their exemption and this money would then flow back to the General Fund.

The same system should also be set so that Corporations and Businesses who receive tax cuts are required to report back to the Legislature demonstrating the positive or negative impact of the tax cuts. The legislation would be called Business/Corporate Responsibility and Accountability legislation.

d. Sin Tax Increase--A number of states have enacted increases in sin taxes to help balance the budget. In Idaho the sales tax on beer has not been increased since 1963 and on wine since 1971. Studies indicate that tax increases on tobacco products reduces use and in the long run saves the state millions in terms of reduced health costs. A 3 cent increase on a can of pop would generate about $15 million/year. I believe the state needs to look at this as one option to balance the budget.

e. Increase in the sales tax/use of service taxes--If all other means fail to balance the budget I would support a combination of taxing some services along with a one cent increase in the sales tax. I'd especially support lowering the sales tax on food and prescriptions because of the regressive nature of the tax on low income populations.

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'd favor a moratorium until a select group of experts examines all of the aspects surrounding Idaho's situation. There have been too many cases of recent note where DNA evidence has freed convicted inmates who have served long prision terms. I'd also like to know what the cost is per inmate who makes all of the appeals over a long period of time. It may be most cost effect to eliminate the death penalty rather than incur all of the high legal costs utilized in the appeal process, and to ensure that no innocent inmate is executed.

At the same time I do support the death penalty in certain cases which can be substantiated through DNA process and other means including confessions. Once such example is the killing of a police officer.

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've subscribed to Vision2020 since 1996. I've continually communicated with constituents via Vision2020 with Legislative newsletters and other postings. I've made it a policy to communicate with consituents who utilize Vision2020. I welcome questions from constituents.

6. What book(s) are you now reading?
What books am I now reading? Vital Signs--World Watch Institute and Beyond Clonning: Risks of rushing Into Human Engineering.

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

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