My Financial Story

Being “fiscally responsible” runs far deeper than just being a campaign buzz phrase; it is values-deep. I am, at my core, fiscally responsible because of a lifetime of circumstance and discipline.

Kristin and her father
I learned the value of thrift from my father growing up in Great Falls, Montana.

My father raised three children while working multiple jobs to make ends meet, so my education on frugality started before I even knew the meaning of economy. All I saw, therefore all I knew, was a functional existence on the fewest dollars possible. I come from a Depression-era father who has socks older than me and washes and reuses his baggies! This is what informs my view of financial management and responsibility.

When I graduated from high school at 17, college simply wasn’t an option financially. I joined the Army because I knew I could make a living and get an education on a lean but predictable budget and serve my country at the same time! Proudly, I have been financially independent since then, learning to budget, balance my checkbook, and plan for the future. I left the Army with a master’s degree and a means to further support myself and my family.

Kristin's house then and now
I am very proud to share that I will make my last house payment on October 19th, 2018, and this is a goal that I will celebrate even amid the busy final days of the campaign!

I built my home 21 years ago here in Idaho and raised my children, mostly as a single mother and on a single paycheck. I’m not saying it was easy, but because I understood the power of a budget, how to live within my means, and very luckily stayed healthy, I was able to make it work. I started a college fund for each of my children the month they were born, and even when I could only afford to put in $5, I continued to save for their futures.

Because being fiscally responsible is part of who I am, it has shaped the actions and budget in my campaign. I was told I needed to raise up to $500,000 and I balked! I understood that each of those dollars would come from donors, and I knew every cent must be spent wisely. I believed if I operated on an honest, grassroots, lean budget, I could ask for less while delivering on 100% of my supporters’ expectations and still spread my important message across Idaho.

My campaign is called the “camping campaign” because we travel with camping gear just in case we find ourselves on the road without lodging.

We made a promise early on that our donor’s hard-earned dollars would not be spent on restaurant food or motels. Fortunately, generous people (who are now dear friends) have stepped up throughout the state to offer beds, couches, and even floors, so we can stay true to our promise. We pack our food for each trip: our cooler has thousands of miles on it now…and has saved our donors hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars on what might have been drive-through or restaurant food. As promised, every cent goes toward the true necessities of a campaign…toward a win in November.

Kristin's pension
Who’s the better deal? The Spokesman-Review reports that after serving as Lieutenant Governor, my opponent would receive a pension spike to $1022 per month. Mine would be just $293.

As a candidate, I offer you myself, my values, and my life experience. All those things bring us to the same end: a public servant who is respectful of money, where it comes from, and how it is spent.

Fiscally yours,
Kristin

The Opioid Crisis Needs Medicaid Expansion

We all know someone who is struggling with substance abuse issues and many of these victims cannot afford treatment, especially if they are one of Idaho’s 62,000 uninsured people. Medicaid expansion would allow these individuals access to treatments that would put them on the road to recovery from addiction. Too many families have experienced needless suffering due to lack of affordable treatment options in Idaho.

The American Academy of Pediatrics reports that substance abuse addiction affects over eight in ten Idaho families.

It seems that every time we watch the news or read the newspaper, there is a story about the opioid crisis–with no solution in sight. But we know that Medicaid enrollment strongly increases the odds of utilizing substance abuse treatment. The National Institute on Drug Abuse estimates that for every dollar invested in addiction treatment programs, total savings can exceed costs by a ratio of 12 to 1. It makes financial sense for Idaho to reap the rewards of increasing access to substance abuse treatment services.

The Idaho Department of Health & Welfare reports that drug-induced deaths have increased 30% in the past five years. Yet while substance abuse treatment demand seems badly needed, Idaho’s legislature slashed funding in 2017, due a budgetary shortfall. Providers are forced to turn away people seeking treatment when funding is cut as there is no money to cover their costs.

Both county and state jails are bursting at the seams, in large part because of the criminalization of drug use. The Idaho State Department of Corrections reports that drug crimes were responsible for 22.2% of the incarcerated population back in February of 2018. Sadly, not everyone in jail even receives treatment due to limited funding. Without treatment, offenders experience increased difficulties when they are released from prison.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reports that Medicaid/CHIP coverage is the primary payor for treatment of illicit drug use addiction in the United States.

Our state and its taxpayers cannot continue the same path and expect different results. We can no longer afford to ignore the many Idaho families who need crucial help seeking substance abuse treatment. We need to #VoteYeson2 and spread the word about the benefits of bringing our tax dollars back to Idaho. As your Lieutenant Governor, I will advocate that Idaho must respect the wishes of our citizens–if you vote yes on Prop. 2, I will be your voice in Boise. Remember to go #VoteForTheVet on November 6th to make #IdahoStronger.

Public Lands, in Our Hands

Idaho is a state like no other. We are fortunate to live beneath majestic mountain peaks that offer us some of the best hiking and skiing in America. We live beside crystal-clear lakes, rivers, and streams full of world-famous Idaho trout. We hunt and fish, we camp and hike, we ski and skate, we bike and walk.

The Idaho State Board of Land Commissioners reports that only 2.4 million acres remain and advocates need to remember that state management is not designed to keep our public lands in public hands.

Over 60% of Idaho is public land, which means that all of us, regardless of our wealth or ability to own land, have access to these treasured activities. It’s what makes us love Idaho! And it’s up to our elected officials to ensure that this land remains public–and that Idaho’s air and water is protected so our wildlife and citizens have a healthful living environment.

While I grew up next door in Great Falls, Montana, I have spent most of my adult life here in Idaho. I raised my children here, where we’ve been fortunate to spend our free time outdoors, enjoying our beautiful surroundings. Because of our connection to the outdoors, my endorsement from the Conservation Voters for Idaho (CVI) is incredibly meaningful to me because they’re working to create a sustainable and healthful state for all of us.

Both CVI and I also understand that Idaho has vast natural resources. Some politicians will tell you that we have to make a choice: protect our lands, or grow our economy. And I know this simply isn’t true. By embracing alternative energy projects (like solar, wind, and hydro-electric), Idaho can be at the forefront of bold new economic efforts, all while ensuring our public lands stay public and we prioritize our health and natural beauty.

Here in Idaho, state officials have let out-of-state billionaires buy up hundreds of thousands of acres. Those billionaires then lobbied state officials to create strict anti-trespassing laws that have ensured once-public lands are now inaccessible to us–and just this week they’ve blocked off previously accessible logging roads with gates. Why should Idaho’s public lands be privatized? Let’s keep public lands in public hands.

The Idaho State Board of Land Commissioners reports that reimbursable wildfire costs have averaged 7.1 million dollars over the past four years.

Some support Idaho taking ownership or management of public lands from federal oversight, but this is a short-sighted plan that will leave Idaho on the hook for millions of dollars every fire season. We can’t support that or risk the state selling off land once it has it under its control.

As your Lieutenant Governor, I’ll keep advocating for the prioritization of clean energy, ensuring public lands stay accessible to all, and for an economic plan that recognizes our state’s natural resources while keeping our water and air clean for future generations. We need to stand up for everyone’s right to public lands and a healthy environment. Let’s make #IdahoStronger and #VoteForTheVet Kristin Collum on Nov. 6th.

Idaho is Stronger than Hate

Idaho, like the rest of America, has a history of racism. The Aryan Nation came to North Idaho in the 1970s and has kept a presence ever since. Many people around the U.S. hear Idaho and think first of potatoes, and then white supremacy.

As I’ve traveled Idaho’s 44 counties and met the men and women who make up our state, I know that we are so much more than the hate with which we are sometimes associated.

Sep 20, 2018 Dedication of the Marilyn Shuler Classroom for Human Rights with Sen Maryanne Jordan, Rep Ilana Rubel, Kristin, Rep Melissa Wintrow, and Rep John McCrostie

I recently had the honor of attending the Marilyn Shuler Classroom for Human Rights at the Idaho Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial. There, I was among nearly 200 people who took part in changing the narrative of racism here in Idaho — last year, this very site was vandalized with racist and anti-Semitic graffiti. This didn’t happen a generation ago, or even a decade ago, but in May 2017.

Organizers quoted Idaho Gov. Cecil Andrus, who said, “Let us always reject the forces of hatred and bigotry.” I believe that we can answer that call for a brighter tomorrow, but it requires us to think deeply about who we want to be, and what we want from our community. Standing shoulder-to-shoulder with so many Idahoans who are resolutely committed to an anti-racist future, I believe we can achieve equality for all Americans.

Some Idaho politicians, including my opponent, Janice McGeachin, have actively supported divisions within our state. By thanking racists commenting on her social media and by attending events supported by groups linked to and supportive of anti-immigration and white nationalist agendas, she condones a future in which Idaho remains unequal, an Idaho whose future is clouded by division. I believe we are better than that, that we can, as Andrus said, “reject the forces of hatred and bigotry.”

Idaho is, truly, too great for hate. As your Lieutenant Governor, I will stand up for the rights of all Idahoans and I ask you to open your heart. Vote for those in our society who feel left out. Together, we can stand for the well-being of all creation, for religious equality and freedom, for integrity and character in our leaders, for the safety of all in public and in private, for the poor and vulnerable, and for the prosperity of all who work hard for their families and communities.

Make sure your vote is aligned with where your heart really is and with the values that give you energy and confidence. Let’s make #IdahoStronger and #VoteForTheVet Kristin Collum on Nov. 6th.

Expanding Medicaid Supports Small Towns and Veterans

This year, Idahoans will vote on Proposition 2 to expand Medicaid to 62,000 Idahoans, many of whom depend on rural hospitals and medical providers to maintain their health. By voting YES, rural medical providers will be able to keep the doors open for their communities because more patients will be insured, and our small towns will benefit by attracting new people and businesses, leading to economic growth.

rural hospital closures
The map above compares rural hospital closures in Medicaid expansion states against closures in states that have not expanded Medicaid.

While no rural Idaho hospital has closed in the past eight years, the Chartis Center for Rural Health reports that seventeen of our hospitals are operating with negative margins. No business, including those in the medical industry, can experience continued negative operating margins and expect to stay open. Rural-area medical providers are hard to attract and retain because their patients are more likely to be low income, experience more chronic disease, and are disproportionately uninsured. It is, therefore, a challenge to attract providers to areas with these demographic realities. Expanding Medicaid goes a long way toward sustaining and growing our currently understaffed rural hospitals and medical clinics.

Supporting Medicaid expansion in Idaho makes economic sense and will be an economic boon to our state, particularly our rural areas. For years we’ve been paying federal taxes for this and not received a penny for it. Expansion would bring nearly $400 million back to Idaho to cover most of the costs, which will create tax revenue and thousands of jobs while reducing existing costs of less effective, reactive programs.

veterans in Idaho
Data from the Veterans Administration shows that approximately 27 percent of veterans live outside of major cities in Idaho.

Another reason I will vote Yes to Prop. 2 is that it will help our military veterans who live in poverty and either do not qualify for Veterans Administration (VA) healthcare benefits or live far away from a VA facility. Living in a rural area makes accessing VA care impractical due to transportation issues. Additionally, there are approximately 6.8% of Idaho veterans who made less than the median poverty level in 2017 according to the Census Bureau. The Idaho Voices for Children reports that 3800 veterans in Idaho are uninsured and that Idaho has one of the highest veterans uninsured rates in the country. We need to take steps to make it easier for veterans to access healthcare when they need it.

Study after study shows that Medicaid expansion makes economic sense, and I know it will help our rural hospitals maintain their ability to provide services to residents, including veterans, across Idaho. Our legislature has danced around the issue for many years, and Idaho residents continue to suffer needlessly.

Now we have the chance to speak for ourselves and tell our state’s leaders that it’s time to invest in Idaho’s people and vote YES on Proposition 2 on November 6th!

Reforming Idaho’s Prisons

Idaho has a problem.

Our prisons are overflowing with prisoners, an estimated 53% of whom are nonviolent drug offenders. Our state officials are currently exploring out-of-state options, including moving even more prisoners to Texas (250 are already in that state) or building a 1,500-bed prison facility that will cost taxpayers $500 million.

The Prison Policy Initiative reports that family visits occur less often when the prisoner is incarcerated far from home, which increases recidivism.

Lawmakers and officials are considering moving forward with these ideas knowing the costs will be borne by taxpayers. Additionally, prisoners will be separated from their families, creating a situation in which crucial support structures are removed from prisoners who are vulnerable to recidivism.

I know we can do better.

Utah recently had a similar problem, but they’ve dealt with the difficulties in a very different way. Both Utah and Idaho had very strict drug laws that considered possession of any trace of many narcotics a felony, necessitating massive prisoner populations. But while Idaho has held tight to these same laws, Utah shifted gears in 2014. The state moved all first- and second-time drug possessions from felonies to misdemeanors, and over 200 misdemeanors were moved to purely citations.

As a result, the state has seen a 9% reduction in prison populations and statewide financial savings that Utah has instead been able to invest in recovery programs and substance abuse treatment plans. This gives prisoners a better chance at changing destructive behaviors, keeps addicts nearer to family and friends who provide much-needed care, and allows the state to create more sustainable budgets that better support our citizens.

As your lieutenant governor, I promise to stand with our citizens. We can create more humane laws that ensure our prisons aren’t at maximum capacity, while we also keep our citizens safe. We know this is possible because our neighboring states have done it. At my events, I have heard from family members who have loved ones in the prison system. And they have asked us to try and bring rational change to Boise. In addition to making these reforms, we know that investing in pre-kindergarten leads to lower crime rates, so instead of spending money to lock up nonviolent offenders, we could better fund education and ensure brighter futures for the children who comprise the next generation.

According to the 2017 Fiscal Facts, we spend more money on county and out-of-state prisons than we spend on actually educating and treating prisoners in Idaho.

So please, stand with me and those whose loved ones are caught in a system of outdated sentencing and ask our government to reform our prison structure and make positive changes for all Idahoans. Let’s make #IdahoStronger and #VoteForTheVet Kristin Collum on Nov. 6th.

The State of Idaho’s Cybersecurity

I’ve spent more than two decades working in the tech sector and know that, as important as cybersecurity is in keeping an organization secure and in business, it is easily overlooked. When up against deadlines and budgetary constraints, security can easily be put on the back burner. However, when the organization in question is the Idaho State government, it’s a much larger problem that could compromise our personal information like tax records, DMV, and voter data, to name only a few important examples. More than identity theft is at risk–we also are exposing the state to the monetary theft of our taxpayer money, resources, and funds that would be spent on an emergency response to a cyber attack.

A recent study by IBM estimates that a data breach costs $7.91 million dollars.

While the stakes are high, it’s very hard to know if security is being neglected. It’s quite easy to tell if a roadway is being underfunded: after a few winters, the road will be full of potholes that create hazardous conditions and require taxpayers to spend tens of thousands of dollars in repairs to their vehicles. Unfortunately, it’s not so obvious when cybersecurity is being underfunded. With recent compromises of Idaho government systems, however, we see clear signs that there are serious “potholes” in Idaho’s cybersecurity program:

Webroot states that Idaho is the ninth riskiest state for cybersecurity in the nation.

Lieutenant Governor Brad Little has established the Idaho cybersecurity initiative to protect Idaho’s intellectual properties, state resources, and data systems, but is it working?

Knowing the importance of cybersecurity, I’ve engaged cybersecurity leaders in Idaho who have confirmed that several state websites, including the cybersecurity initiative site itself, have known, easily identifiable, and preventable vulnerabilities. My Chief Security Officer, Jerry Decime, responsibly disclosed these vulnerabilities to State Chief Information Security Officer Lance Wyatt on August 25, but as of today, September 6, they are still not resolved.

A state employee who logs into this or several other state websites could be fooled by a fake log-in prompt into passing their credentials to an attacker who could further compromise state systems.

When it comes to cybersecurity, there is a very important difference between saying you care about it and actually achieving and maintaining secure online systems. As your Lieutenant Governor, I will ensure the state’s cybersecurity initiative gets the attention and support it needs to keep Idaho government systems and data safe. Let’s make #IdahoStronger and #VoteForTheVet Kristin Collum on Nov. 6th!

Insuring Idaho’s Economic Future

Idahoans know how to work. And we do it well. Our state has very low unemployment, hovering around 3%, and Idaho boasts an economy that runs from agriculture and mining to tourism and technology.

Kristin Collum supports the ranchers and farmers of Idaho’s agriculture industry.

But Idaho is vulnerable.

As an international trade war continues to escalate, led by President Trump’s trade tariffs and restrictions, Idaho has begun to suffer. Idaho has a massive dairy industry, which is now subject to tariffs on cheese and dairy. Potatoes are being targeted with tariffs, as is beef. Everything from hay to tech, beer to semiconductor parts, is now susceptible.

Trade partners from around the world, including allies like Canada, are retaliating against escalating U.S. tariffs of steel and aluminum. Idaho’s hardworking farmers, ranchers, and more are losing shocking amounts of money every day on foods and products that, until recently, were exported to every corner of the globe. One Idaho dairy estimates it’s losing $4,000 a day and, by the end of August, will have lost more than $250,000 this year.

idaho trade
The US Census Bureau reports that Canada is Idaho’s top international trading partner.

Our state is expected to have the highest U.S. exposure in this trade war. What does this mean? That we’ll be hit hardest based on our economy and GDP in proportion to our population.

For those who think this is just impacting workers, we know this is hitting consumers as well. Almost everything we buy, including clothing, cars, and appliances are expected to jump in price.

Idaho needs politicians who will stand up for our farmers, ranchers, companies, workers, and consumers. I am here to support those hard-working men and women who are on the front lines of our state economy and deserve to be paid adequately for their labor and goods. I believe we can’t grow our state or national economy while we’re battling our allies around the globe in a tit-for-tat strategy where no one wins.

As lieutenant governor, I promise to advocate for a rational economic strategy within our state’s borders that will grow jobs, protect our valuable goods, and seek solutions for Idaho. Let’s make #IdahoStronger and #VoteForTheVet Kristin Collum on Nov. 6th.

Owning Feminism

I recently met a few young women leaders during mock interviews, and I was so impressed and proud of their poise and knowledge when answering questions on a wide array of topics. They are leaps and bounds beyond where I was at their age, and that gives me so much hope for our future!

Yet, when a panelist asked one intelligent, confident woman, “Are you a feminist?” she hesitated. She glanced down; then, almost apologetically, she admitted that she was.

When we reviewed her performance, I asked her why she answered that way, and she explained that the term “feminism” has a negative connotation.

I asked, “Do you believe that men and women are equal, that people should get equal pay for equal work?” and she said, “Yes, of course.” I responded, “Then you are a feminist. Own it, and do not hesitate.”

I, myself, once had difficulty admitting I was a feminist. The word does have a stigma and is negatively associated and frequently misunderstood. I urge everyone (men included) to take the word back and strongly stand by our beliefs that women are equal, not subordinate, to men and therefore deserve equal legal rights, pay, treatment, access, etc.–without taking anything away from men.

idaho ranking
Source: WalletHub

Especially here in Idaho, we need to own it. In a new report from WalletHub, Idaho ranks second to last of the 50 states for women’s equality. So what do we do about it? It starts with more women stepping up to lead in government and in businesses, to pave the way as examples and mentors. This year, as elsewhere, Idaho has a record number of women running for office, and we will elect our first female lieutenant governor.

We need to elect the right woman for this historic first–the one who will move us forward, not set us back. The one who stands up for women and does not support or admire men who denigrate or objectify women. The feminist who will be the example of strong and capable leadership.

kristin feminist

So, everyone, especially in these of all times, when asked if you’re a feminist, do not hesitate. Own it. Of course, you expect equal treatment. Of course, women and men are equal. Of course, Idaho women deserve better.

Keep Idaho’s Public Lands Public

We are so lucky to live in Idaho. We know that one of the many things that makes Idaho a wonderful place to live, work, raise a family, and retire is our broad expanses of public land. We spend our days outside –skiing, hunting, biking, fishing, hiking, and more.

But our great resources are threatened when public lands are sold to private owners, which then reduces or cuts off our access to the outdoors.

Two Texas billionaires bought up 172,000 acres of private land that had been publicly accessible to hunters and recreational users and now blocks access to public land–and then lobbied state legislators to enact a new trespass law that makes trespassers liable for a variety of fees and legal costs, including those of the plaintiff. This type of action results in less land for you, the sportspeople and recreationists who work to preserve those spaces.

We’ve also heard talk from state leadership and candidates about transferring federal lands to the state, which would come at massive costs to taxpayers. Management, particularly of wildfires, could decimate the state’s budgets and create the possibility that those public lands would ultimately need to be sold to alleviate costs.

Further, our lands sustain more than just our own enjoyment: our economy and public health are dependent on the environment. Yet we continue to see salmon runs drop year after year, while electricity from our own dams is being sold at a loss to other states. Additionally, irresponsible mining operations have created gashes in our lands that make our landscapes eyesores and contaminate our water sources for generations.

So what can we do?

Let’s oppose the sale of public lands. We must demand conservation plans to protect our natural resources – our salmon, our water, our air. Let’s vote for politicians who understand that our state’s natural grandeur and beauty are worth preserving for our children and grandchildren. Let’s champion ways our lands can be used to help our state economy and create jobs while preserving and protecting Idaho’s natural resources and beauty.

I came to Idaho as an adult, and I raised my family here. We, like most Idahoans, have spent so much of our lives in the forests, mountains, and waterways that make this place home. I know that we have to honor the lands of this state because they form the foundation for what makes us unique. From Coeur d’Alene to Bear Lake, from Homedale to Driggs, there’s no place like Idaho.