NEW PLYMOUTH - Finishing what he started is at the heart of why Rep. Ryan Kerby, R-New Plymouth, has decided to run for Idaho House of Representatives seat 9a in the May 19 election for another two year term. As he explained to the newspaper in a Question and Answer request on March 7, Kerby said his record represents what his constituents want, even if it’s not necessarily what the rest of his party wants.
Some answers have been trimmed for length which is indicated by an ellipses.
IE: Why did you initially decide to run for state representative?
RK: There was an open seat after Lawrence Denney left to run for Secretary of State during the 2014 election. Several people whom I respect asked me if I would run. I had been involved in state politics for a number of years, working on both policy and elections, so I had an interest. It was a good time for me as I was getting ready to retire.
IE: Why have you decided to run again?
RK: I feel I have a lot of unfinished business. We have made some very solid progress in education and corrections, funding for roads, and lowering taxes, but we have a ways to go. Idaho is a great place to live, and I want to keep it that way.
IE: What have you successfully accomplished so far, in your view?
RK: Several years ago I wrote the original bill for the program in which High School students take dual credit courses, (so called because they count for high school and college credit), and the program has completely changed the high school experience in Idaho. Last year 26,000 high school students across Idaho earned 184,000 dual credits. That is many thousands of Idaho students who will have less college debt and who are more likely to finish college or get an industry certification.
I brought a bill last year which helps high school students get involved in apprenticeship programs (electricians, diesel mechanics, welders, HVAC, etc.), and the program was recently placed on the National Governor’s Association “best practices” list for career technical education. This program is expanding rapidly in Idaho.
I have worked hard to improve salaries for the teachers in our rural schools. We consistently lose excellent teachers to schools in neighboring states, (six left Fruitland for Oregon schools just last year), and we need to be more competitive. This year I have worked with the governor’s office to improve salaries again.
I have supported a number of tax cuts, especially the income tax a couple of years ago which brought over a hundred million dollars of tax relief to Idahoans. We will hopefully have a property tax cut bill through before the end of the session this year, and it would be fabulous if we can get rid of the grocery tax as well. I am working hard toward getting both of those major tax cuts done this year. Getting rid of the grocery tax is by far my number one priority in the tax cutting arena.
IE: What more do you feel you have left to do?
RK: Get rid of the grocery tax if we don’t get it done this year. To really improve the economic situation in Payette and Washington counties, that tax absolutely needs to be completely gone. Governor Little campaigned on the issue, and I hope that it will be off the books either this year or next. I continually push hard on this.
In education we have a lot of work still to do with career technical education. We need more programs in school districts which will lead directly to good paying jobs in their communities. When students leave high school, and are not going on to college, they should either have industry certifications which they can use to get good paying jobs, or at least are well down the road towards these certifications. In this case they should be able to attend a community college for a year, then into the workforce in a highly skilled position. We passed a bill this year to get more high quality teachers for career technical programs, but we have many other areas that need to be improved.
We need to continue reducing recidivism in our state prisons. We need to properly train our inmates for jobs, improve their work habits and ability to get along with others, and in general get them ready to be successful when they re-enter society. That way they are not as likely to return.
IE: To voters who feel like your voting record may seem uncharacteristic of your party, what do you tell them?
RK: My voting record is characteristic of what my constituents want, and what the voters who put me in office want. I have an extremely strong track record of getting out and about in District 9, and staying close to the voters. I have won the Republican Primary three times because Republican voters in District 9 feel they are well represented, that I have consistently listened to them. I do not pay attention to extremist pseudo-Republican groups from Boise who score votes, and who put a lot of pressure to legislators to vote the way THEIR GROUP wants. I choose to vote for what the good folks who live in District 9 want, rather than what a few rich folks want who are sitting in an office in Boise and are upset that they haven’t been able to manipulate me and my votes.
IE: To the voters, what do you tell them when they ask why they should vote for you again?
RK: Since I’ve been in office we have significantly increased funding for roads and bridges, and increased teacher salaries, while at the same time cutting taxes. We are now the least regulated state in the union.
I will work to keep things improving here in Idaho. Having lowered taxes, become the least regulated state in America, we are a state people love to live in, and a place people want to come with their businesses and families. I will work to continue improving education here in Idaho as my goal is for Idaho to have one of the best education systems in America.
Voters know I listen to them and not to voices outside our district, especially well-funded outside groups who try to control legislators and promote their agendas.