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Les Gara's Issue Positions (Political Courage Test)

Office: State House (AK) - District 20, Democratic
Project Vote Smart does not permit the use of its name or programs in any campaign activity, including advertising, debates, and speeches.
Les Gara has refused to provide voters with positions on key issues covered by the 2016 Political Courage Test, despite repeated requests. Historically, candidates have failed to complete our test due to the advice they receive from their parties and advisors and out of fear of negative attack ads. Les Gara is still welcome to submit the test at any time.

What is the Political Courage Test?

Alaska State Legislative Election 2008 Political Courage Test

This candidate has responded to a Political Courage Test in a previous election. As a continued effort to provide the American public with factual information on candidates running for public office, these archived responses are made available here.

The Political Courage Test asks candidates which items they will support if elected. It does not ask them to indicate which items they will oppose. Through extensive research of public polling data, we discovered that voters are more concerned with what candidates would support when elected to office, not what they oppose. If a candidate does not select a response to any part or all of any question, it does not necessarily indicate that the candidate is opposed to that particular item.
Indicate which principles you support (if any) regarding abortion.
a) Abortions should always be illegal.
b) Abortions should always be legal.
Xc) Abortions should be legal only within the first trimester of pregnancy.
Xd) Abortions should be legal when the pregnancy resulted from incest or rape.
Xe) Abortions should be legal when the life of the woman is endangered.
f) Abortions should be subject to a mandatory waiting period.
g) Require clinics to give parental notification before performing abortions on minors.
h) Other or expanded principles

I don't beleive government has any business deciding whether a woman should be allowed to choose a first trimester abortion. Abortions should be legal in the first trimester, and also if needed to protect a woman's health or life; and if pregnancy is a result of rape or incest.

Regarding option g)- The law would have to be written carefully. A child of an abusive parent shouldn't have to get that parent's consent.

State Budget: Indicate what state funding levels (#1-6) you support for the following general categories. Select one level per category, you can use a number more than once.
Greatly Increasea) Education (Higher)
Slightly Increaseb) Education (K-12)
Maintain Statusc) Emergency preparedness
Slightly Increased) Environment
Slightly Increasee) Health care
Slightly Increasef) Law enforcement
Maintain Statusg) Transportation and highway infrastructure
h) Welfare
i) Other or expanded categories

These categories are far too general to all for meaningful answers. I support universally affordable health coverage; universal kids health coverage, which can be obtained at a modest state cost with leveraged federal funds, and a renewable energy plan to protect our air and water, and stablize the rising cost of energy in Alaska. University and pre-kindergarten education create opportunity, and should be available to all. The lack of personal wealth shouldn't be a barrier to education, as it is today. I've worked to pass increases in university financial aid and pre-K education funding this past year.

State Taxes: Indicate what state tax levels (#1-6) you support for the following general categories. Select one level per category, you can use a number more than once.
a) Alcohol taxes
Maintain Statusb) Cigarette taxes
Maintain Statusc) Corporate taxes
Eliminated) Gasoline taxes
Slightly Decreasee) Property taxes
f) Vehicle taxes
g) Other or expanded categories

I worked the past 6 years to fix Alaska's oil tax system so Alaskans could receive a fair share for our oil. We've achieved that now, and don't need other tax revenues at this point.

We should eliminate the gas tax when oil is at high prices, for example, at $100/barrel and above. When oil is at high prices, people can't afford gasoline taxes, and they are not needed by the state.

No1) Should accounts such as a "rainy day" fund be used to balance the state budget?
No2) Should fee increases be used to balance the state budget?
3) Other or expanded principles

See above. You shouild never increase taxes on people when you have as big a surplus as we have today in Alaska.

Indicate which principles you support (if any) regarding campaign finance and government reform.
Yesa) Do you support the current limit of terms for Alaska governors?
Undecidedb) Do you support limiting the number of terms for Alaska state senators and representatives?
c) Do you support limiting the following types of contributions to state legislative candidates?
Yes1) Individual
Yes2) PAC
Yes3) Corporate
Yes4) Political Parties
Yesd) Do you support requiring full and timely disclosure of campaign finance information?
Yese) Do you support imposing spending limits on state-level political campaigns?
Nof) Should Alaska participate in the federal REAL ID program?
g) Other or expanded principles

I've voted to decrease the amount of money people can donate to candidates; voted for campaign finance reform; and voted to limit the influence of lobbyists by limiting their ability to donate to candidates. I worked hard on these measures, all of which are now law.

Indicate which principles you support (if any) regarding crime.
Xa) Increase state funds for construction of state prisons and hiring of additional prison staff.
b) Establish the death penalty in Alaska.
Xc) Support programs to provide prison inmates with vocational and job-related skills and job-placement assistance when released.
Xd) Implement penalties other than incarceration for certain non-violent offenders.
Xe) Minors accused of a violent crime should be prosecuted as adults.
Xf) Support state and local law enforcement officials enforcing federal immigration laws.
Xg) Support hate crime legislation.
h) Other or expanded principles

(e) - certain violent crimes (e.g., not schoolyard fights)

(f) - Need more information, and would need to know whether federal funds would be available to pay for state effort in federal enforcement.

Indicate which principles you support (if any) regarding education.
Xa) Support state funding of universal pre-K programs.
b) Support federal education standards and testing requirements for K-12 students (No Child Left Behind).
Xc) Support state education standards and testing requirements for K-12 students.
d) Support requiring public schools to administer high school exit exams.
e) Allow parents to use vouchers to send their children to any public school.
f) Allow parents to use vouchers to send their children to any private or religious school.
Xg) Provide state funding to increase teacher salaries.
Xh) Support using a merit pay system for teachers.
Xi) Provide state funding for tax incentives and financial aid to help make college more affordable.
j) Support allowing illegal immigrant high school graduates of Alaska to pay in-state tuition at public universities.
k) Other or expanded principles

I've helped obtain university financial aid funding, and pre-k education funding increases this year, and will keep fighting for these policies so all can have an opportunity to succeed in school, and continue to college if they desire.

(d) Exit Exam should be altered so that students who can show their acheievement in other ways also are allowed to graduate. The current system is very costly, and interferes with teh ability of schools to provide a strong education. It should be fixed.

Indicate which principles you support (if any) regarding employment.
Xa) Increase funding for state job-training programs that re-train displaced workers and teach skills needed in today's job market.
b) Reduce state government regulations on the private sector.
Xc) Provide low interest loans and tax credits for starting, expanding, or relocating businesses.
Xd) Provide tax credits for businesses that provide child care for children in low-income working families.
Xe) Increase state funds to provide child care for children in low-income working families.
Xf) Include sexual orientation in Alaska's anti-discrimination laws.
Xg) Include gender identity in Alaska's anti-discrimination laws.
Xh) Increase the state minimum wage.
Xi) Support laws that prevent employers from dismissing employees at will.
Xj) Support financial punishments for those who knowingly employ illegal immigrants.
Xk) Support increased work requirements for able-bodied welfare recipients.
Xl) Increase funding for employment and job training programs for welfare recipients.
m) Other or expanded principles

(k) is vague, but I support transitioning people into the workforce, into meaningful jobs.

(i) there are some jobs where at-will employment makes sense, but generally, I support protecting employees so that an employer has to have fair cause for firing someone.

Indicate which principles you support (if any) regarding the environment and energy.
Xa) Promote increased use of alternative fuel technology.
Xb) Support increased production of traditional domestic energy sources (e.g. coal, natural gas, oil, etc).
Xc) Support providing financial incentives to farms that produce biofuel crops.
Xd) Use state funds to clean up former industrial and commercial sites that are contaminated, unused, or abandoned.
Xe) Support funding for improvements to Alaska's power generating and transmission facilities.
Xf) Support funding for open space preservation.
Xg) Limit carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases linked to global warming.
Xh) Enact environmental regulations even if they are stricter than federal law.
i) What would you like to see done concerning a natural gas pipeline originating in the North Slope? Please use one hundred (100) words or less.

I voted for AGIA ansd the pending AGIA gas pipeline proposal because it seeks to provide in-state gas for our communities; allows for gas spur lines inside Alaska, and for a possible LNG line to Valdez; keeps the transportation and consumer cost down; prevents the major oil companies from blocking competition, and competitors on the North Slope; promotes Alaska Hire; and maximizes the state's ability to levy fair taxes on natural gas producers.

j) Other or expanded principles

(b) - I don't generally support increased coal use, but do support increased natural gas and oil exploration in Alaska. (b) is vaguely worded. Coal can be used if it burns cleanly, and the latest technology is used, in areas where superior energy sources are not available; but I think we need to fucus on expanding the use of renewable energy where possible. I am hopeful that coal technology that limits greenhouse gas emmissions and other harmful pollutants progresses, and if it does, coal can become a more responsible energy source.

Indicate which principles you support (if any) regarding guns.
Undecideda) Should background checks be required on gun sales between private citizens at gun shows?
Yesb) Should citizens be allowed to carry concealed guns?
c) Should a license be required for gun possession?
Yesd) Do you support current levels of enforcement of existing state restrictions on the purchase and possession of guns?
Yese) Do you support current state restrictions on the purchase and possession of guns?
f) Other or expanded principles
Indicate which principles you support (if any) regarding health.
Xa) Ensure that citizens have access to basic health care through managed care, insurance reforms, or state-funded care where necessary.
b) Guaranteed medical care to all citizens is not a responsibility of state government.
Xc) Limit the amount of damages that can be awarded in medical malpractice lawsuits.
Xd) Allow patients to sue their HMOs.
Xe) Require hospitals and labs to release reports on infections that are a risk to public health, while not compromising patient confidentiality.
f) Legalize physician assisted suicide in Alaska.
Xg) Support allowing doctors to prescribe marijuana to their patients for medicinal purposes.
h) Other or expanded principles

(a) is vague. I have concerns about managed care.

(c) I support fair limits, but also beleive victims of serious malpractice should be allowed fair compensation. Taking their rights away is frequently a knee-jerk reaction that results in no community benefit, and only a benefit to insurance companies that is not passed along to either doctors or consumers.

(f) A patient should be allowed to remove life support in certain circumstances. I'd consider allowing a person to end their life when they are in extreme pain from a terminal illness, and I'd need to think and learn more.

Indicate which principles you support (if any) regarding social issues.
Yesa) Should Alaska recognize civil unions between same-sex couples?
b) Should same-sex couples be allowed to marry?
Yesc) Should Alaska provide state-level spousal rights to same-sex couples?
Yesd) Do you support a moment of silence in public schools?
Yese) Do you support voluntary prayer in public schools?
Yesf) Do you support sexual education programs that include information on abstinence, contraceptives, and HIV/STD prevention methods?
Nog) Do you support abstinence-only sexual education programs?
h) Should the state government consider race and gender in state government contracting and hiring decisions?
i) Do you support affirmative action in public college admissions?
j) Should Alaska continue affirmative action programs?
Yesk) Do you support state funding of stem cell research?
l) Do you support state funding of embryonic stem cell research?
Undecidedm) Do you support allowing pharmacists who conscientiously object to emergency contraception to refuse to dispense it?
n) Other or expanded principles

(m) - if a pharmacist objected to providing emergency contraception, they'd need to make the contraception readily available from another source or pharmacist.

Legislative Priorities
Please explain in a total of 100 words or less, your top two or three priorities if elected. If they require additional funding for implementation, please explain how you would obtain this funding.

I will keep working form expanded pre-k education, because the studies show that it results in higher graduation rates, lower crime rates, and greater success for students. I will keep supporting increased university and job training financial aid so that income isn't a factor in whether someone can reach for success.

I'll keep fighting for a stronger minimum wage; better renewable energy funding; good pensions for government workers; and universal access to quality medical care. I will also keep working to protect our access rights to Alaska's public lands, and our ability to enjoy Alaska's fishing, hunting and recreational areas.

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