[Vision2020] Candidates share mixed feelings on minimum wage

Moscow Cares moscowcares at moscow.com
Thu Oct 4 03:45:50 PDT 2018

Courtesy of today’s (October 4, 2018) Moscow-Pullman Daily News.


Candidates share mixed feelings on minimum wage
Foreman only legislative candidate not willing to endorse Medicaid expansion

Minimum wage and Medicaid expansion were two topics Idaho 5th District Legislative candidates addressed during a candidate forum Wednesday at the Good Samaritan Society - Moscow Village.

District 5A State Rep. candidates Margaret Gannon, D-St. Maries, and Bill Goesling, R-Moscow; 5B State Rep. candidates Caroline Nilsson Troy, R-Genesee, and Laurene Sorensen, D-Moscow; and Idaho Senate candidates Dan Foreman, R-Viola, and David Nelson, D-Moscow, attended the forum.

Idaho follows the federal minimum wage standard of $7.25 per hour, and some residents feel it needs to be increased, especially in a district that borders Washington, where workers earn no less than $11.50 an hour.

Goesling said educational opportunities and career technical training are critical for students attaining high-paying jobs.

"We have to provide opportunities for children who don't want to go to college," Goesling said.

His incumbent opponent, Gannon, said inflation in expenses such as rent, grocery prices and electricity are making $7.25 an hour more difficult to live on.

"We have to look at making sure that employee, whether they take a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) job or decide to flip hamburgers, have enough to live on," Gannon said.

Sorensen said she always supported raising minimum wage, especially in border counties such as Latah and Benewah. She said those residents can commute to Washington for higher-paying jobs than those provided in Idaho.

"It's causing a brain drain," Sorensen said.

She said Idahoans need to think about how to keep their workforce in the Gem State, and focusing their attention on career technical education jobs is one way to do that.

"To me, telling a business what they should be paying their employees is not free, fair and open market," said Nilsson Troy, the incumbent.

She said she has been trying to expand career technical programs to rural schools since she took office and that the state needs to concentrate on living wage jobs.

Foreman said the issue of wages should be between the employee and employer.

"The issue of wages in the private sector should stay in the private sector," Foreman said. "Show me in the Constitution where the government has any authority to force employers to pay a set wage to a private employee. It's not there, folks ... We want capitalism and free enterprise, not socialism."

Nelson said he has no objection to raising the minimum wage and sees no constitutional issue in doing so.

"Just because you don't like it, doesn't mean it's not constitutional," Nelson said.

He said Idahoans need to be trained for high-paying jobs to fill the thousands of vacant STEM jobs in the state.

All the candidates, except Foreman, said they would support Proposition 2, a November ballot measure that, if passed, would allow Idahoans at up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level to enroll in the Medicaid program. It would provide health care to more than 60,000 Idahoans.

Foreman said the proposition is an unconstitutional delegation of power to the federal government.

"It's time for us to empower the individual versus empower the state," Foreman said. "Our current programs are well-intentioned, but they perpetuate the need for welfare. Medicaid allows people to continue to make poor health choices."

He said a welfare program, which should gradually be reduced in size and cost, should be designed to get Idahoans back on their feet financially and that voluntary drug testing should be implemented so if a welfare recipient refuses to take the test, that person does not receive his or her welfare benefits.

Nelson said Proposition 2 is a great thing for Idaho.

He said most people who fall in the Medicaid gap work and, for many of them, at minimum wage jobs. Nelson said the cheapest insurance on the state health exchange is about $900 a month, so people in the gap cannot afford it.

Nilsson Troy said since no progress has been made in recent years to resolve the health care issue, she will support whatever decision District 5 residents make at the polls.

While she said she has never been a fan of Medicaid expansion, she said it is unfair that the gap population is not taken care of.

Sorensen said she supports the ballot measure, noting the emergency room is the primary place uninsured residents go - even for primary care. She said those uninsured go to work ill and send their children to school sick, which infects others and causes a loss of productivity.

"It really will make our whole society healthier to adopt it," Sorensen said.

Gannon and Goesling both said they support the proposition.

Gannon said Idahoans seeking preventative care will save themselves and taxpayers in the long run.

As a guardian ad litem and veteran, Goesling said he sees the health care problems young children are facing without parents to assist them and veterans who also fall in the gap, which is why Medicaid expansion is needed.


Seeya 'round town, Moscow, because . . .

"Moscow Cares" (the most fun you can have with your pants on)
Tom Hansen
Moscow, Idaho
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