With the start of the 2018 legislative session, there are several things on the table. In an interview with Rep. Ron Nate, (R) Dist. 34B, who is also a BYU-Idaho Economics Department faculty member, we touched on just a of the few major issues in the legislature this year. They include the tax surplus and health care, as well as the run for Seat B of Dist. 34 after Republican Rep. Dell Raybould announced his leave.
Nate says the state has collected too much from taxes over the last few years. He says this year alone the state collected a surplus of several million dollars. He explained that in the past few years the legislature has chosen to find ways to spend those funds rather than return them to the tax payers.
"Income tax collections, sales tax collections, and others have been coming in higher than expected," Nate said. "I think we owe to the taxpayers to return every penny that the government doesn't need. The problem is a lot of legislatures think the government needs all the money, but I think the hardworking families in Idaho need the money more than government does."
Aside from the tax issues, the state is trying to apply for two waivers to expand Medicaid. Nate says expanding Medicaid is not the answer to the continuously increasing of health care costs.
"I'm reluctant to create more dependency on a federal program," Nate said. "The good news is there are some other legislatures working on a different response that caps the number of enrollees and finds a way for Medicaid recipients to work their way off the program, and I think that's a better solution both for the state, the federal government, and for the individuals involved."
Lastly, with the run for Seat B of Dist. 34, Nate endorsed Elaine King. "I've worked with Elaine King for many years, she's an amazing member of the community," Nate said. "I've never met a harder worker or more earnest person than Elaine. I fully support her in that race and I'm excited to see her run and it would be great for District 34 if she were elected representative."
You can listen to the full interview below.