IDAHO FALLS, Idaho - You've seen and heard the political ads for Idaho's 2nd Congressional District race. You can tell it is a hotly-contested one, but how well do you really know the candidates? Bryan Smith is challenging incumbent Mike Simpson in the Republican primary, May 20. Democrat Richard Stallings will wait to see which candidate he will face in the general election this fall. Eyewitness News anchor Todd Kunz interviewed all three and asked them about how to bring good quality-paying jobs to Idaho and balance the minimum wage issue.
"We've seen the unemployment rate years of over seven percent as a result of this excessive spending. I believe we need to fix the economy by controlling our debt. We also need to fix our broken tax system. And if we also want to fix our economy and have jobs, we need to reduce the regulations that are just choking businesses. But I would also go back to the state lands issue. If you go to North Dakota, North Dakota is able to access its own resources. A minimum wage job in North Dakota is 15 dollars an hour. It's not set by the government. It is set by free market principles. So because North Dakota is able to access its resources, they do have good paying jobs. And I believe the same thing can be true to Idaho in the timber industry, in the mining industry, that we could bring good paying jobs back to Idaho with that issue resolved as well," said Republican challenger Bryan Smith.
"What government does is create the environment for the private sector to grow the economy. Now there are certain things we do that are important to Idaho, supporting the Idaho National Laboratory, Mountain Home Air Force Base, Gowen Field, making a Farm Bill that works for our ranchers and farmers, which is what we've done over the last couple of years and particularly this year with the Farm Bill, so those are important specific to Idaho. But you have to create an environment with less regulations and lower taxes. You can't have the highest corporate tax rate in the world, which is what the United States has and be competitive around the world. And so many of our jobs today are dependent on exports, so it's important that we be competitive and that means we have to reduce the burdens and the uncertainty that businesses face when they are trying to grow a business. That's not only important to Idaho, but every business around the country," said Republican incumbent Mike Simpson.
"Todd, you know as well as I do, if you're a company that wants to relocate, the first thing you're going to look at is not only the resources, but where are the workers going to put their kids in school? And if the schools are bottom, I mean I spoke to a group of Idaho Falls legislators, most of them Republican, I think they were all Republican. I said, you folks ought to be grateful for Mississippi and Alabama, because as long as they are in the running, we will never be at the bottom. Surprise, we are now at the bottom. Even they've passed us. Mississippi is now in better shape in terms of funding education than we are. So we have discounted our education. We have a mentality that education is not important. And so the first thing is they make jobs tougher to attract and secondly, they can sign our people to minimum wage jobs the rest of their lives. And I think until you take education more seriously, until you boost our commitment to education, until you make our educational system as good as our neighbor's, we are always going to be at the bottom of the spectrum," said Democratic challenger Richard Stallings.