BLACKFOOT — Gubernatorial candidate Keith Allred stopped in Blackfoot Thursday to meet supporters and to answer questions from concerned citizens.
The Democratic candidate drew approximately 100 people—from staunch supporters to skeptics—to a meet and greet event Thursday evening.
Allred, who believes in a government by and for the people and not for special interest, said his two priorities are education and reducing the tax burden for Idahoans.
“We can get a more competitive tax structure and still invest in schools by looking at the $2 billion in tax exemptions we have on the books,” Allred said.
And by collecting unpaid taxes, Allred believes much of the budget deficit could have been recovered, reducing cuts to education.
“Butch Otter has let tax deadbeats steal textbooks from Idaho kids,” Allred said.
The education budget, Allred said, is something that shouldn’t and didn’t have to be cut.
“Every governor in Idaho’s history, through good times and bad, has kept education whole because they understood what a fundamental priority it is,” Allred said.
In addition to education, Allred discussed cuts to Health and Welfare, calling the existing system “bureaucratic” and “inefficient.”
Citing payment delays from the state’s new Medicare payment system Molina and recent reductions in providers by new Medicaid dental payment system DentaQuest, Allred called for increased transparency from the department.
“We need a completely different culture with Health and Welfare,” Allred said. “We need major changes there.”
Allred believes Molina, which delayed payments to Medicare providers in July, is in violation of its contract. If elected governor, Allred said he will abolish the contract as soon as he is in office.
Allred plans to rely on his experience in conflict resolution to improve the relationship between the state government and the people.
Allred has presided over the Common Interest, a non-partisan citizens group that lobbies to pass legislation representative of a sampling of Idaho residents.
He plans to use the same method to get things done as governor, getting 1,000 individuals from each legislative district to help shape legislation, then using those 35,000 people to lobby their legislators to get the measure passed.
“Now you’ve got a way of getting it done,” Allred said. “If a governor partners with tens of thousands of Idahoans, we can actually work productively with the legislature to get this done.”