Jana Kemp is one of the two Independent candidates for governor and she thinks the “good ‘ol boy system” in Idaho politics has prevented the state from being the place it could be. Kemp, a former Republican state legislator from Garden City, launched her campaign in January from the Nampa Civic Auditorium pledging to change the direction of the state.
Kemp told IdahoReporter.com Friday that the state government needs to reform welfare and corrections spending, modernize the public school system, educate citizens on a little-known tax that could help bolster education spending, and examine inequities in transportation taxes.
Kemp says that the government must do a better job of examining existing systems to find waste and areas to effectively cut without affecting service levels of state departments in order to keep education funding stable in the future. She also feels that the budgets for the Department of Corrections and Department of Health and Welfare must be placed under a magnifying glass to find ways to save money. If the state can continue supporting public education, Kemp believes, the state will be able to meet the needs of employers for an educated workforce in the foreseeable future
Online sales tax
Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna recently called on the state to begin collecting out-of-state Internet sales taxes, money he believes would help stave off additional education budget cuts. Kemp rejected Luna’s call, saying that Idaho already has state law requiring citizens to report taxes on online purchases, though it is little-known. If elected, Kemp said she would work to educate citizens on the requirements of the tax and encourage more Idahoans to report Internet purchases on tax forms. Additionally, she would provide training for tax preparers to ensure they are acknowledging the online tax requirements during their work.
Education ‘action plan’ and early graduation
The Garden City candidate believes the public education system in Idaho is outdated and not in tune with the students of today. She wants to integrate more virtual and visual education into classrooms to prepare students for modern workplaces. As governor, Kemp would also eliminate requirements of “No Child Left Behind” in the school system, a policy that has led to educators only “teaching to the test” and not adequately preparing students for life after high schools.
During the 2010 legislative session, a plan was passed that would allow students in Idaho to graduate early from high school and receive state-funded scholarships for doing so. The program, known as the Mastery Advancement Pilot Project, will run for six years in select Idaho school districts yet to be chosen. Students will be allowed to test out of school subjects and utilize summer school in order to get ahead. Backers of the program believe it will allow more students to graduate with high school degrees and community college degrees at the same time through concurrent enrollment programs.
Kemp says that idea sounds good on paper, but that she will need to watch the implementation of the pilot program to see how effective it is. She is suspicious of some members of the House Education Committee, who she believes may be attempting to dismantle a free, state-funded school system through the program.
The Legislature killed two separate bans on texting while driving during the 2010 session. Rep. Marv Hagedorn, R-Meridian, is crafting legislation that he hopes will pass the Idaho House and Senate in 2011. Kemp was wary of giving approval to a bill that hasn’t been finalized, but said that she would be hesitant to give the bill the OK because Idaho law already forbids inattentive and distracted driving. She worries that if the texting ban is passed, lawmakers would be required to ban eating, shaving, and other activities behind the wheel.
A task force comprised of state lawmakers is in a multi-month process of determining how the state can shore up transportation funding over the next few years. The panel is expected to deliver results in December. As governor, Kemp said she wouldn’t close the door on gas tax hikes, one option considered by the task force. She hopes the recommendation also includes a plan to equalize fees paid by passenger car drivers and those who drive heavy trucks.
A recent study showed that heavy trucks are underpaying for the wear they put on the roads by about 14 percent, while light trucks and cars are overpaying by about 8 percent. This is a position Kemp shares with Democratic gubernatorial candidate Keith Allred, who has proposed a 3-cent reduction in the gas tax coupled with a corresponding increase in fees for heavy truck drivers.
Rep. Bob Nonini, R-Coeur D’Alene, is creating legislation to propose in the 2011 legislative session that is similar to that passed earlier this year in Arizona that, before courts stripped it of major provisions, allowed police officers to inquire about the immigration status of persons stopped in legal situations. Kemp says the cost of illegal immigration outweighs the benefit of cheap labor provided by immigrants. “Idaho needs illegal immigration to be addressed,” exclaimed Kemp. “Illegal is illegal.” If elected, she would first use her position to pressure the federal government to act on the problem. If that doesn’t solve problems, she says, she would ask state lawmakers to reform entitlement programs to keep illegal immigrants off the state’s tab. She would also institute a cap on the number of months anyone could be on welfare programs in order to incentivize people to earn their own way.
Kemp squares off with Allred, Republican incumbent Butch Otter, Libertarian Ted Dunlap, and fellow Independent Pro-Life on Nov. 2.