116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Kris Gulick, 64, of Cedar Rapids, is the Republican candidate for Senate District 40 in the Nov. 8 general election. Gulick, a former Cedar Rapids City Council member and former president of the Iowa League of Cities, is seeking his first term in the statehouse.
The Gazette posed a set of questions to all area statehouse candidates. Below is the transcript of Gulick’s answers. Polls will be open on election day from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
What do you think are the three most important issues the state is facing? What would you do to address them?
Gulick: 1) Workforce, 2) Education, 3) Economic Growth
These three issues are interrelated. Iowa needs economic growth to prosper, but the current workforce shortage restricts opportunities. To compete for workers, our state government must enhance our quality of life. We can do this by making decisions that provide quality education, retain and create good jobs, and ensure a reasonable cost of living.
We need a strong education system to supply a workforce trained in the jobs of today and the future. Any changes Iowa makes to funding its schools must be based on programs that have a solid track record of success.
To attract people to work in Iowa, we must create communities where they want to live and work. Investing in public amenities, infrastructure, and housing initiatives can make this happen.
Do you support the use of eminent domain for CO2 pipelines? Why or why not?
Gulick: I support individual property rights. I would ask the Iowa Utilities Board to work with CO2 pipeline companies to focus on obtaining voluntary easements.
The government must use eminent domain sparingly and carefully and only when there is a clear public benefit. My record on Cedar Rapids City Council would confirm a limited use of eminent domain.
What restrictions or limitations should be placed on the use of eminent domain for CO2 pipelines?
Gulick: See my previous answer.
The state is projected to have a budget surplus of more than $1 billion. What would be your top priorities for that surplus?
Gulick: A surplus is defined as an amount left over when requirements have been met. Iowa has cash reserves rather than a surplus. Reserves are created when state revenues are in excess of its expenditures.
Reserves are critical to maintaining a healthy financial position. Reserves should be used for one-time events such as an economic crisis or natural disaster. Using reserves to pay for ongoing or recurring state expenses is bad public policy.
Reserves also allow the state to cash flow operations of state government while awaiting collection of tax receipts. As an example, the City of Cedar Rapids has the policy to maintain a reserve fund of 25 percent of the annual general fund budget. That reserve kept the City operating during and after the flood of 2008.
What changes — beyond those made in recent sessions — would you like to see made to Iowa's tax code?
Gulick: Rather than focusing on just one aspect, the state should look at all fees and taxes — income, sales, use, property, etc. — in a more holistic manner. We need to review all sources of revenues, then design a tax structure that meets the needs of the state while being fair and equitable. Additionally, our tax system needs to be simplified so that it can be better understood.
Under what circumstances should Iowans be able to access abortion services in the state? What if any, exceptions should apply to any abortion bans?
Gulick: Iowa women have abided by our existing law that has been in place for over a decade. I am personally in support of those long-standing laws and the reproductive rights they provide. I respect those that believe further restrictions should be made as well as those that feel our laws are too restrictive. Regardless of my personal beliefs, any further restrictions or loosening of restrictions should be determined by the vote of the people of the state of Iowa rather than any legislative or judicial governmental action. By providing education, family planning, and access to contraception, we can help Iowans avoid unwanted pregnancies.
What are your ideas for improving public schools?
Gulick: We need to look at creating incentives for educators to find new and innovative ways to educate our students. This includes partnering with employers and nonprofits that develop new ways to educate our future workforce. Examples in our community include Kids on Course, Iowa Big, and Junior Achievement.
We also need to make sure that our colleges and universities graduate teachers who can teach today’s students skills needed in tomorrow’s jobs. Teachers continuing education should focus on adapting to changes in technology and the workforce.
The state government should develop programs to encourage students to go into the teaching profession. This can be done at the high school level through internships or apprenticeships that introduce students to teaching.
Do you support further use of state funds to help parents pay the costs of non-public schools or home schooling for grades K-12? Why or why not?
Gulick: To be supportive of using taxpayer dollars to fund private K-12 education, I would need solid data showing that public funding of non-public schools results in a better educational system overall. Currently, I don’t know of any state that has successfully done that.
My goal is to improve our educational system’s outcomes so that Iowa can once again be a at the top of the list for providing high-quality K-12 education. Our state government should focus on ways to improve our public schools’ outcomes, something we’ve done in the past and can do again.
Should Iowa ban the use of hand-held mobile devices while driving?
Gulick: Traffic crashes are a leading cause of death in our country. Using a hand-held mobile device causes distracted driving, which in turn leads to crashes.
Many states have already banned the use. With the technology now available, I believe it is time that the state strongly enforces a hands-free mobile device policy for drivers.
Should automated traffic cameras be banned?
Gulick: No. I was on the city council when the I-380 traffic cameras were approved. My suggestion at the time was instead to reduce the speed to 45 mph on the stretch of highway that was of concern, but that was rejected by the Iowa DOT. My belief then, which has since been confirmed, was that lower speeds would reduce the number of accidents on that stretch of I-380.
The automated traffic cameras are the primary reason for the reduced speed of drivers through Cedar Rapids. The cameras also act as public safety force multipliers, which reduces the time and risks police officers incur during accidents on that particular stretch of I-380.