BOISE — U.S. Rep. Raúl Labrador, who is seeking the Republican nomination for Idaho governor, laid out many of his proposals on social issues and government transparency in an interview last week at his campaign office in Boise.
In recent months, Labrador has issued a series of outlines of policy proposals on issues ranging from financial disclosure to abortion, and in the interview he added many specific details on his proposals.
Labrador said he supports a very limited amount of financial disclosure for state government officials.
Labrador has had to complete extensive disclosures of his own personal finances during his term in Congress. Unlike with state lawmakers, from whom state laws require almost no disclosure, the federal laws that congressional candidates are subject to require some of the most extensive disclosure around.
Labrador said he wouldn’t support implementing a similar level of disclosure for Idaho lawmakers to that required of federal lawmakers.
“I just don’t think it’s something that is necessary,” Labrador said. “I think what the public has a right to know is whether something that I’m doing … actually is directly benefiting from a government relationship.”
Instead, he would only require state lawmakers to disclose any actual conflict they have. They’re already required to announce any conflicts under the rules of the House and Senate, but only when it comes time to debate and vote on a bill where they have a conflict. Idaho rules allow lawmakers to vote after they have disclosed a conflict, though they can opt not to.
Public meetings and public records
Labrador has also proposed creating a central website where agendas for upcoming government meetings, minutes and other important information can be posted in a central location for all state government entities.
Labrador’s biggest push toward transparency would be proposing changes to the public records laws to clarify that statistical information contained in state databases is public. He said he would push the state to make such information publicly available at the click of a mouse, rather than having to go through the procedure of a records request.
Labrador said his most important piece of family legislation would be tax cuts, which he argued would spur rising wages.
“You can brag about having the fastest growing wages in the United States, but the problem is when you were 48th and you’re now at 46 or 45, that’s not great,” he said.
Labrador’s plan is to cap personal income, corporate income and sales taxes at 5 percent each. On its own, that’s projected to mean a vast reduction in state revenue, but Labrador said it would be softened by closing tax loopholes. He said, in particular, he would look to end tax breaks given to certain companies or classes of companies, instead focusing on broader rate reductions.
Labrador said he would also look to cut wasteful spending, for example, reducing the number of administrators in the school system, to cover the lost revenue from the tax cuts.
“You have to do the hard work,” he said. “The hard work is to reduce spending and close the loopholes in our tax code.”
Labrador said he would do whatever he could to stop or reduce abortions in the state.
“My job as the a governor is to protect life,” he said. “… In certain instances the state can make a decision. We need to make sure the life of these precious fetuses is protected.”
Labrador said he supported a law written by Rep. Ron Nate, R-Rexburg, which requires doctors in the state to give women seeking abortions a list, which the department doesn’t vet, of locations where they can receive a free ultrasound. He said he would stop short of supporting legislation like that sponsored last year by Sen. Dan Foreman, R-Moscow, which would have charged both women who obtain abortions and doctors who perform them with murder.
“I would never charge the mother,” he said.
Labrador said he doesn’t consider the issue of same-sex marriage settled by the Obergefell v. Hodges decision, which declared that states don’t have a right to restrict marriages to couples of opposite gender because doing so violates the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
Labrador said he both disagrees with the court finding that the issue isn’t up to states, and with the idea that same-sex marriages should be allowed. He said his strategy would be, on the one hand, to look to develop a test case that can serve as the basis for Obergefell to be overturned (or join another state challenging the precedent), and work to maintain Idaho’s ban on same-sex marriage, which remains in the Idaho Constitution though it can’t be enforced.
“I believe in traditional marriage, so I would support a traditional definition,” Labrador said.
Reporter Bryan Clark can be reached at 208-542-6751.