What do education, the definition of a veteran, employment and local governments all have in common? Taxes, or more accurately, tax policy.
Everything comes back to money and for governments that means tax collections and tax policy. Even if the state of Idaho were extraordinary at facilitating and expediting business, we cannot escape being victims of an ailing economy, nor can we, or so it seems, avoid bad tax policy.
Bad tax policy really is the root of all evil and remains a common thread leading to other bad policies.
To demonstrate: Some folks are trying to do an end run around the will of the people with respect to the education bills and put some lip gloss on the adjudicated legislation. Even with the new makeup, they will still smell like the oinkers they were unless there is sincere and diligent effort to look for real reform and listen to what teachers, parents and businesses really want: cost-effective, high-quality education where the cost is shared equally by everyone.
Shifting the financial burden of education has not resulted in a prudent, consistent, education policy and it has certainly resulted in miserable tax policy. Education policy appears to be a short-sighted effort to make the current educational system fit a desired cost with a hopeful outcome; rather than looking for proven innovations that achieve 21st century educational outcomes and also demonstrate measurable cost effectiveness.
From a different perspective: We owe our veterans a great deal; we also owe their families. We owe law enforcement officers and firemen as well; they spend their entire careers "in harm's way." All veterans are not the same. The term "veteran" has been used in state law to distinguish, for certain privileges, between those individuals who served in combat zones from all other service members.
The combat-zone distinction should be honored, but is now threatened by efforts to make all veterans the same, ostensibly for purposes of providing an advantage to "veterans" in state contracts and jobs, which is a popular way to sell the idea that government choosing who wins and loses is OK. Expect renewed efforts to provide tax credits and homeowner exemptions to "veterans." Tax credits and exemptions to favored groups mean that everyone else gets to pay more. Bad tax policy may not be the goal, but it is a result and should get the blame.
Employment policies can also demonstrate fallacious tax policy. Multiple iterations have occurred to create and "fix" and "fix" and "fix" legislation purportedly to help small business by giving businesses a tax credit if they hire a new employee.
The assumption seems to be that if all businesses would hire someone, then not only the symptoms but perhaps even the cause of a poor economy would just go away, and the only reason employers are not hiring is because their taxes are too high.
Taxes are too high, but they are too high for everyone, and we only began to notice when the economy inevitably went in the tank and Dorothy stayed in Kansas. We all prefer the boom cycle to the bust cycle, but employers need a reason to hire, other than taxes - they need sales. They also need ease of doing business and fair treatment from their government.
Fair treatment from government means that government does not choose winners and losers by giving one sector an advantage in taxes with a corresponding tax increase to all others. Bad tax policy is to blame for inequities and negative results. Sound policy is the result of well-defined purpose.
Sen. Tim Corder, R-Mountain Home, represents Boise and Elmore counties.