WTHR.com asked the three candidates for Indiana governor to answer the following questions. Libertarian Rupert Boneham's answers are as follows:
In your first term, what would be your big area of reform and why?
In my first term as Governor, I will focus on three areas for major reform; taxes, education and the criminal justice system.
We need to lower taxes and make the collection and disbursement of them transparent and accountable. Hoosiers can't afford another $600 million "oops."
Our children are lacking the skills they need to make it in higher education and in the workforce. This is not the fault of hardworking dedicated teachers or concerned parents. The majority of the blame rests with the importance placed on standardized testing and administrative costs over classroom development. We need to encourage innovation in education, not multiple choice test prep.
When someone breaks the law, they should be punished, but that punishment shouldn't be without reason and compassion. We are locking up our young men and women, branding them with a lifelong felony and failing to provide them with the method and encouragement for them to get back on the right path. We can spend a little today to create a productive member of society or we can spend $50,000 a year when they become a career criminal.
With job creation as a top priority in this election, what are your specific ideas to generate jobs in our state?
The top job creators in Indiana are small businesses. In 2007, 84.6% of all businesses in Indiana were small businesses, with fewer than 20 employees. They employed nearly 632,000 Hoosiers or about 24% of the workforce. These numbers have grown in the last five years. As a small business owner, I understand that the state cannot create jobs… it can only get in the way of job growth. As Governor, I will ease the burden of entry for new businesses, create an entrepreneurship program within public schools and create an endowment fund for community based business incubators.
Gov. Daniels has said that Indiana is in better economic condition than most of our neighbors. Do you agree, and if you are elected, what policies will you pursue to strengthen Indiana's economy?
All you have to do is look at our neighbors' bottom line. They are broke, taxed to the hilt and running massive deficits. Yes, we are doing better than they are. But, doing better and doing well are not the same. Hoosiers are struggling to find quality jobs, put food on the table, save for retirement, pay their mortgages or just feel financially safe. Before our elected leaders pass new laws and regulations or increase taxes they must first understand the impact on small businesses and people living paycheck to paycheck.
Attracting and keeping business
What types of incentives do you believe will not only keep businesses in our state, but also attract new ones?
Giving out incentives, subsidies or abatements to attract new business is the worst thing the state or counties could do. That is taking money from the communities and giving it to one favored business over another. Too often the businesses that receive these special treatments either never reach the employment or wage levels agreed to or they threaten to leave if the deals aren't renewed. Indiana can be an attractive place for all businesses without having to negotiate special deals with each company at the expense of taxpayers and other, already established companies. Wal-Mart gets a tax subsidy, but the 40-year-old bicycle shop down the street does not - this is unfair. The best way we can attract new business and industry to Indiana is by making sure we have a highly trained and eager workforce, stable government and a thriving economy.
How do you think the state could work to make sure all Hoosiers have access to affordable care (especially in light of the Supreme Court decision on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act)?
No one should go bankrupt or die because they can't afford quality healthcare. I would have liked to have seen a continuation and expansion of the highly successful Healthy Indiana Plan (HIP). But, that doesn't appear to be an option anymore. There are a lot of strings attached to the Medicaid Expansion program and I'm honest enough to say at this point I'm not sure what we should do. Once we become part of that program, there is no turning back. The long term fiscal liability to Hoosiers is something that needs careful consideration. At the same time, we must ensure that Hoosiers are getting the treatment and care that they need. One thing I am very sure of is this, we need to do more to strengthen and grow our community based health programs.
Education and skills
What are your plans to help students cover the cost of higher education? How will you promote other options to students and families such as technical and vocational programs? What about unemployed workers who lack the necessary skills to find jobs?
As Governor, I will work with state schools to lower instate tuition and costs for Hoosiers. I will also ensure that every Hoosier, that has met the minimum requirements, will have a place at any state funded school.
For years our school system has placed a premium on getting a college degree. Right now there are many students enrolled in colleges and universities who have no idea why they are there or what they will do after. Instead of pushing every student down the college track, why don't we promote trade skills, vocational programs and entrepreneurship?
I would like to see the promotion, reach and training programs of Indiana Workforce Development greatly expanded. The only time you hear about their training programs is when you are already out of a job and receiving unemployment benefits. Programs and services offered by the agency should go beyond office and clerical work and find ways of getting workers into agricultural, culinary arts, trade skills and entrepreneurship programs.
What social issues do you do champion the most and if elected, how rigorously will you pursue these types of issues in our state?
There are two social issues that are near and dear to my heart, youth advocacy and equality.
For over 20 years, I've worked hands-on with young people coming out of foster care, detention centers and broken homes. I have personally seen the profound impact the simple act of showing a child that someone cares about them can have on their attitude and ultimately their future. We must make sure our youth advocates have the tools they need to care not only for the physical wellbeing of children, but for their emotional stability as well. As Governor, I will ensure the agencies charged with acting on the behalf of children do their job swiftly, efficiently and fully.
Whether it's based on religion, gender, race, disability, age, affiliation, sexual orientation or gender identity we cannot afford to allow discrimination and bigotry to be enshrined in our laws. Each of us is free to think, feel, preach and associate with whomever and however we want. But when it comes to the state, there can be no less than 100% equal treatment under the law for everyone. As Governor, I will preserve, defend and protect the Constitution of Indiana and of the United States on behalf of every Hoosier.
What are your thoughts on Mitch Daniels' Major Moves Deal, and do you think Hoosiers will benefit from it in the future?
Overall, I think Major Moves was a benefit to Indiana. I would like to see more openness and transparency during these types of deals. The one major criticism I have over Major Moves is the lack of constraint and oversight during the allocation and spending of the "windfall". I would have liked to have seen the money given to the counties and held by the state put into an endowment or interest bearing fund. That money could have ensured infrastructure stability for years to come, instead of the wasteful mad dash spending that we've seen across the state.
"Right to work"
How do you mend relationships with between the two parties in the legislature and with unions operating in Indiana?
We need to come together and realize a couple of simple truths. First, Unions would have larger support if there were more open shops where unions were more competitive, by showing value to potential members earning their membership. Second, the state had no authority to pass a law restricting the contract rights of private companies and their workforce. As Governor, I will work to repeal Right To Work, like we did in 1964, and campaign to encourage more competitiveness within local unions.
What tax cuts would you propose to save Hoosier families money and how would you recover that revenue to the state?
The very first item on my agenda, as Governor, will be to push for an immediate cut in both the personal and business income taxes. I would like to see these lowered directly to 3% each. I will also ask the legislature to reconsider the tiered property tax caps that were recently added to the Indiana Constitution. I would like to see the rates for farms and commercial properties brought down to the same level of personal property, 1% each. As small business grows, new industry comes to Indiana and Hoosiers have more good paying jobs the need to "recover" lost revenue will be moot. It may take a little time for the fiscal impact to materialize and some may be tempted to create new "short term" taxes. Instead, I would look first for high administrative costs, not services, which could be trimmed from the state budget. The state can't offer you a break with one hand and pick your pocket with the other to pay for it.
What are your plans to maintain or improve the quality of Indiana's air, water and land?
I'm a good old Hoosier boy who became famous for camping and fishing. I want to make sure that my daughter and my grandchildren and my great grandchildren get to dig in the Indiana dirt hunting for night crawlers. I want them to be able to camp out at the Hoosier National Forest and spend hours counting the stars in the country sky. I will encourage and promote, without subsidy, the development and use of renewable and alternative technologies in Indiana. As Governor, I will also put the full weight of the criminal courts against anyone who willfully or negligently pollutes our land, water or air.