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Democratic candidates for Idaho governor face off in debate

Paulette Jordan and AJ Balukoff fielded a number questions on subjects ranging from education and healthcare to gun laws and marijuana legalization.

BOISE - All eyes were on Decision 2018 Sunday night as Democratic candidates for Idaho governor -Paulette Jordan and AJ Balukoff - squared off on Idaho Public Television.

Questions ranged from the state's health insurance gap to gun laws. For the most part both candidates agreed on these topics, but there were some things they didn't agree on - like the legalization of marijuana.

Expanding Medicaid in Idaho has been halted for the last three years. Both Jordan and Balukoff say they have signed a petition that would put the expansion on the ballot.

Jordan says health insurance is a basic human right as she continues to push for universal healthcare.

Balukoff focused on the 62,000 Idahoans that fall into the healthcare gap.

"We should be able to help those families and individuals who don't have health insurance coverage," Balukoff said. "Beyond that, helping citizens have doctors they can go to instead of the emergency room will help the state save money."

Balukoff also says the goal would be to get the expansion passed through the legislature but would look into using executive order. Jordan had a similar response.

"We have to work with our legislative body, however, we are looking at all options in case this is not passed at this level," Jordan said.

WATCH: Idaho Public Television gubernatorial debate: Democrats

When it comes to the legalization, decriminalization of medical marijuana, Jordan says she's in full support.

"This would be a broad tax base for our constituents of Idaho," she said. "We would use those millions of dollars in tax revenue that we've already seen in neighboring states all around our state and reinvest it into education."

This is where Jordan and Balukoff disagree. Balukoff says he's opposed to the substances and believes medical marijuana needs to be properly tested.

"It should go through the FDA trials so we have evidence on how effective it is on what conditions, what the dosage should be, and whether it should be a prescription medication or an over the counter medication and then use it accordingly," he said.

Another major topic in the debate - gun control laws. Both candidates say they are gun owners and while they support responsible gun use they both would make changes to gun laws.

"That would include things like universal background checks and closing the loophole on gun shows where anyone, including terrorists, can go in and buy whatever guns they choose," Balukoff said.

The Boise businessman also says he would support raising the age for buying guns and adding safety courses a potential gun owner would have to take.

Jordan stressed the need for background checks as well when it comes to domestic violence offenders.

"Unfortunately that legislation did not pass this year," said the former state representative. "I think we would have an opportunity next year to pass, but this is the type of legislation we need to have in our state."

Sunday night's debate was just the first of four. IPTV hosts the Republican debate Monday night at 8 p.m. on Idaho's Very Own 24/7, on KTVB.com, and the KTVB app.

The following week, KTVB hosts the final statewide television debates at the Brandt Center at NNU.

Republican candidates go head-to-head on April 30 at 5:30 and Democrats get their turn on May 1 at 6 p.m.

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