Lots left undone
Our legislators had plenty of time this year to pass measures making it more difficult for citizens to be able to gather signatures to pass an initiative referendum. They had enough time to pass elements of Props 1, 2 and 3, laws which were soundly rejected by the voters. They had enough time to consider eliminating the tax on Girl Scout Cookies. But they don't have time to pass the Medicaid expansion bill that will save the taxpayers tens of millions of dollars and bring $1.1 billion into the state? Idaho taxpayers should demand that they stay in session until they get the job done.
CAY MARQUART, Boise
Lessons on power, civic responsibility
Two recent Statesman "approvals" of the Legislature's concept of "responsible citizenship" warrant further analysis.
First, your editorial of March 24 lauding Sen. Curt McKenzie for "wisely shoot(ing) down off-target bill" on sheriff's responsibilities regarding enforcing federal law misses an important abuse of power by a legislator. HB 219 was ill-advised, but it was passed in the House by a majority vote. Legislators are constitutional officers representing a constituency. Respect for the democratic process means each house must give bills passed in the other house a fair hearing. It's outright arrogance for one senator to override the vote of the House Republicans. What would be the Statesman's position if such abuse of power were inflicted upon a bill the editorial board deemed worthy?
Secondly, in the Statesman stories regarding a special exemption from sales tax for Girl Scout Cookies, no consideration was given to the proposition that even Girl Scouts might benefit from an object lesson in their civic duty to pay taxes in support of good government. We now have more than 98 special exemptions from the sales tax. Our funding of education ranks below Mississippi. Girl Scouts would benefit in a "big picture" lesson in civics?
BOB HUNTLEY, Boise
Attacks on public schools continue
The phrase "separation of school and state" in the March 15 letter to the editor by David Lowenthol sent chills up my spine. It was the first time I had seen the phrase in mainstream media. It is the slogan used by one group funded by the American Federation for Children, a group led by Betsy DeVos, the Koch brothers, the Walton family and other super rich who support ending government involvement in education.
Why would the super rich want to get rid of public education? They can afford the best education for their children and don't want their money supporting the riff-raff - the 99 percent. Besides, uneducated people are more easily led. Their first strategy was convincing fundamentalist Christians that public schools were evil, and they should home school.
Next came the "school of choice" campaign that takes money from public schools for charter schools, and in Idaho, creating a bill that would give a tax credit for religious school scholarships, further taking money away from public schools. The next strategy was getting rid of teachers unions. This last one is getting their idea of separation of school and state to go mainstream.
Conspiracy theory? No, conspiracy fact.
LAVONNE BENNETT, Boise
A better way than Common Core
Do we as parents and grandparents realize what our precious children are being taught? We thank Gov. Butch Otter and Tom Luna for wanting to better Idaho education, but do they really realize what Common Core is, and do we? We have been studying it out and are shocked to say the least. How can our elected officials lead us into such a trap?
Common Core is led by private organizations, is unproven and seems to be bypassing hundreds and thousands of years of proven learning techniques.
We could be using a proven plan of teaching by Dr. Sandra Stotsky that she has offered free of charge.
Stotsky, a longtime critic of Common Core standards, has released an ELA framework for use in schools, districts, and states, for free. Dr. Stotsky is known for her participation in crafting the excellent 2001 ELA standards for Massachusetts and how those standards placed Massachusetts as one of the very best states in the country on standardized tests.
It is a mystery why our state officials over education would want to keep us in Common Core when we could have a tried system for education with no dollar outlay.
LYNN NORTON, Nampa
Backers of charter schools go too far
The whole idea behind charter schools was for like-minded citizens to be able to educate their children with a curriculum that was outside the general scope of the public school system. They provided their own land, facilities and teachers. They were private schools and privately funded. The children of charter members were assured enrollment and additional space was filled by lottery.
Then charter members lobbied the Legislature to provide public funds to offset their operating expenses. These funds were provided at the expense of the public schools. They now are private schools with public funding.
Now they are seeking the ability to levy property taxes for their facilities without voter approval. This is something that even our public schools cannot do. Talk about taxation without representation.
In addition, they want tax exemptions for personal and business donations to their private scholarship funds to be allocated without public input or control.
Everyone who pays taxes for the public education of their children ought to rebel and tell their legislators to put a halt to this travesty, or they will be voted out of office. If not, our public school system will decline even further than it has under conservative Republican control.
JAMES PAULS, Eagle
GOP attitudes will be remembered
The hypocrisy of Idaho Republicans in the House and Senate is laughable. Idaho Republicans claim to be against government involvement. Idaho Republicans recently tried to pass legislation that would make it a misdemeanor for Idaho law enforcement to help federal agents enforce federal gun control laws. Idaho Republicans don't want federal interference when it comes to health care. But when it comes down to what a person wants to put in their own body or watch on television, Idaho Republicans are all for government interference. Idaho Republicans tried to pass legislation that would make sure the federal government cracked down on Washington and Colorado for legalizing recreational use of marijuana. Idaho Republicans just voted 57-13 to pass legislation that wants the FCC to crack down on TV shows that portray premarital sex. Talk about some serious hypocrites.
Those Republicans can be 100 percent sure that they will not have my vote next time their seat comes up for re-election.
BRAY ANTRIM, Boise
There is an obvious way to stem the tide
If we are a country of laws, there is a right and wrong way to do things. It is a slap in the face for American citizens and those who act in a legal fashion to become citizens. We do not negotiate with terrorists and must not reward those who have shown disrespect for our laws.
If American citizens are prosecuted for passing illegal or forged identification, driving without a license or insurance or for not paying taxes, so should those who enter our country illegally.
Politicians and the rest of us know the remedy for the illegal immigration problem, but politicians are beholden to those most responsible for it, the so-called job creators who hire illegal immigrants under the table to avoid paying tax and bolster the bottom line.
If Immigration and Custom Enforcement spent one-third the money it is using to apprehend and incarcerate illegal immigrants on going after and prosecuting employers who hire them, the illegal immigrant problem would go away on its own. At some point, we are going to have to say no to amnesty, lest we will be issuing an open invitation for millions more illegal immigrants.
AARON AMOS, Burley