Craig Williams is running for the Republican nomination in Iowa Senate District 6. Williams filled out the survey over email. For more information on his candidacy, visit here.
- What is the proper role of government:
I believe in a limited government that will do those things that have to be done but cannot be done effectively by individuals. For example, building roads, bridges, national security, space exploration
2. What issues do you consider non-negotiable:
I don’t care how much the rest of Illinois begs, we’re not annexing Chicago.
I am 100% pro-life and pro-second amendment. I will not negotiate away gun owners’ rights or allow an expansion of abortion rights.
3. What concerns do you have about how the COVID-19 situation was handled by the government, if any:
I have a lot of concerns. At the federal level, we’re literally spending trillions of dollars while shutting down our economy. We went beyond making up for lost compensation and are actually incentivizing people not to work by paying them more on unemployment than they made while working. There will be some unintended consequences and some intended abuses caused by legislators voting for bills they haven’t read. Clearly, this virus is more deadly than other pandemics and maybe the worst in my lifetime. But it is by far more devastating on our economy than anything I have ever seen. The death toll is reported daily by every news source in America. But what you can’t see clearly is how many might die BECAUSE of the extraordinary measures we’ve taken. People will take their lives due to depression and millions (mostly in 3rd world countries) may die of starvation as we dump milk and euthanize cattle and hogs. Maybe the most concerning is that this has had such an impact on society, could we survive another pandemic? I think Governor Reynolds is doing a very good job in the circumstances and I don’t want to second guess her. She has access to information most of us do not have and more than enough people telling her what she should do.
4. At what point do you believe a human life is guaranteed the legal protections of being an American citizen and what would you do to ensure those protections are provided?
I believe it’s at conception. Unfortunately, the Iowa Supreme Court has done the state a complete disservice reading into the Constitution something that does not exist. We can’t create a law that overrides the decision of the Supreme Court. We either need to change the Iowa Constitution or change the makeup of the Supreme Court to override their previous decision. I would support a Constitutional amendment to correct the disservice caused by the Supreme Court.
5. Would you support a religious freedom and restoration act in the state of Iowa?
There is a bill in the Iowa Senate today that addresses this and I have read it. From what I understand of it, yes, I am supportive. My only hesitation is that I would like to hear arguments for and against to make sure the language does what it is meant to do and to mitigate the unintended consequences. The original Religious Freedom Restoration Act was, remarkably, sponsored by Democrats Chuck Schumer and Ted Kennedy, passed almost unanimously and signed by Bill Clinton in the early 1990’s. The Supreme Court subsequently interpreted it as applying to federal but not state issues.
6. Would you support mandatory E-Verify in Iowa?
Yes, as I understand it, I would absolutely support it. I recall reading that less than 20% of Iowa employers currently use it. I am told the process is extremely simple and fast so it’s not an overburden to employers.
7. Would you support banning traffic cameras, why or why not?
I’ve never seen a traffic camera in SD6 and I’m not sure I ever will. It’s not a topic that I think is overly important to the people who live in this district and I’m certain they would prefer I spend time on issues that impact them and their families. That said, if it came up for a vote, I lean toward banning them.
8. What, if any, measures would you support to curb gun violence?
First, there is no “gun violence.” It is people who are violent and use guns to carry out that violence.
I don’t see a one size fits all answer to the problem of violence in America. There are a multitude of causes including mental health, family issues, poverty, and just plain evil. I support the second amendment and a person’s right to carry for self defense and stricter punishment for those involved in violent crime whether using guns, knives, bombs, automobiles or whatever their means to carry out their violence.
9. What percent of the state’s budget do you believe should go toward education?
It’s an interesting question because education is one of the most important of our state’s expenditures while, at the same time, there is not an endless supply of money. For 2020, Iowa will spend about $3.4billion on K-12 education and the 2021 budget calls for an additional $100 million. You can add another $1 billion or so for higher education. There are about 490,000 children in Iowa’s public K-12, so the state spends roughly $7,000 per student/year in addition to local school spending per student. It’s been a few years since I looked at this very closely, but back then total spending was in the neighborhood of $12,000 per student. The median household income in Iowa is $60K so without state and local funding, each family would spend 20% of their income per kid on education. Kids are extremely important to me and should be to all of us. Iowa kids deserve a world-class education and it seems to me that $12,000 per child ought to buy one.
10. Would you support education savings accounts?
We have 529 plans today. I assume you are talking about the Iowa School Choice Coalition ESA. From what I can tell about it, and I’m certainly willing to be educated here if my understanding is incorrect, the ESA is less about savings and more about a student’s ability to utilize state funding at a private school of their choice. Conceptually, this makes sense to me. If we are truly trying to educate our children with state money, does it matter whether that education is from a public or private institution so long as the education is there? In addition to the 490K kids in K-12, there are an additional 35-40,000 in private K-12. The argument is, and I think it is a valid one, that private school students should be entitled to at least a portion of that ~$7,000 that public-school children get and use it for private education. The reality is, however, assuming the ESA would want full funding, it would cost the state an additional $235-$280 million per year which means, of course, that it would cost taxpayers that much more per year. If all private schools closed tomorrow in Iowa, that is what would happen to the state budget. I’m very much in favor of school choice. I sent my own kids to Kuemper Catholic, paying private school tuition while also paying taxes for public education, so I get it. I can certainly support school choice, but I want to understand the details and its impact on taxpayers.
11. What do you think of Iowa’s current tax structure?
Iowa’s income tax marginal rate is higher than Wisconsin, Illinois, Missouri, Nebraska or South Dakota. Only Minnesota has a higher rate of surrounding states.
Iowa’s property taxes are in an unenviable top 15 of all US states.
The current tax structure makes it difficult to attract people to move to Iowa and fewer people paying into the system increases the cost per person.
12. Are there any state regulations you would like to see removed?
My numbers may have some age to them, but I recall Iowa having over 160,000 regulations placing it as one of the most regulated states in the country. Excessive regulations impede business startups and small businesses. Rather than choosing a specific regulation for removal, I’d focus on regulations in general and how we can help clear the way for new business rather than being an impediment.
13. What are your views on climate change and what, if anything, should the government’s role be in addressing climate change?
The climate is always changing, or we’d have a glacier for a back yard. I remember well in the early 70’s when scientists were equally convinced that we were headed for another ice age, and kids were scared we were all going to freeze to death. It is difficult for me to put a great deal of confidence in the same people who can’t accurately predict tomorrow’s weather, to be accurate on what the planet will look like decades from now. I’m not a “denier” of climate change, but I am a skeptic regarding both the impact man has on climate change and the impact man can have on changing it. I’m even more skeptical on the motives of politicians in regard to stopping climate change. I think government can have a role in water quality and monitoring and arresting causes of pollution, but I don’t see a role in government addressing “climate change.”
- Do you support expanding use of medical marijuana? Would you support recreational use of marijuana?
I do not use marijuana or other drugs and never have. My understanding from friends who have serious health issues is that medical marijuana has a positive impact on their lives and I could be supportive of that. I am not supportive of recreational marijuana, however. The Libertarian side of me says government should not tell people what they can and can’t smoke or do to their bodies. But the realist side of me knows that there will be a demand for tax-payer assistance for people who suffer side effects of drug use.
Senate District 6: