Stomping feet, costing taxpayers at the Capitol
Moscow-Pullman Daily News
It looks like the question is: How many state senators do you have to bully to get your way on the $1.3 billion Idaho education budget for fiscal year 2014?
One man really knows the answer. He's state Sen. John Goedde, R-Coeur d'Alene, and chairman of the Senate Education Committee.
He knows because he had to do the bullying.
He had to do it, you see, because state Sen. Dean Cameron, R-Rupert, apparently didn't show him what he considered the proper respect.
Neither did the Cameron-chaired Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee that develops spending bills for both houses of the Legislature and recommended the budget by a 15-5 vote. Nor did the House of Representatives, which passed JFAC's bill 52-16.
Even after those votes, which you might say indicated broad support for the budget plan, Goedde stomped his feet because the bill hadn't gone through his committee. His feet landed on some toes, and the Senate defeated the bill Wednesday on an 18-17 vote.
As a result, the Legislature will be in session for several more days at a cost to Idaho taxpayers of tens of thousands of dollars, because Goedde felt disrespected.
Goedde says he is upset also because the bill that was headed for approval would have restored some raises that teachers get for experience, responsibility and education. He wanted the budget to allocate more money, instead, to help school districts pay for lights and heat. Lights and heat are good things to have, we certainly won't argue with that, and the state Supreme Court has said the Legislature has to do a better job of funding them.
Cameron pointed out that the head of the House Education panel and both the teachers union and the school boards association - who often disagree - supported the budget his committee wrote.
No doubt it's not a perfect budget. A perfect budget would fill all the schools' needs without raising taxes. Well, that's not going to happen.
But it makes more sense for the state to fund adequate teacher salaries, and if needs be, leave school district special levies to be used for the time being to fix buildings and pay for utilities.
Another chance lost for online tax revenue
CHEERS to Moscow Mayor Nancy Chaney. She just burnished her political courage credentials.
As the National Journal's Ben Terris reported Wednesday, Chaney is the only mayor in the entire state of Idaho with the guts to join New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's Mayors Against Illegal Guns coalition.
JEERS to state Rep. Lenore Hardy Barrett, R-Challis. She's among 10 House Revenue and Taxation Committee Republicans who, for the fourth time, killed any chance that Idaho might begin collecting sales tax owed on e-commerce.
Even at that, state Rep. Lance Clow, R-Twin Falls, was making a symbolic gesture. With the Legislature winding down, he merely asked the panel to print a measure aimed at placing Idaho among the members of the Streamlined Sales Tax project. This group of sales tax states wants Congress to require businesses selling products through the Internet to remit tax due to the states.
Idaho is forfeiting an estimated $35 million now and will lose even more as more consumers do more shopping online. Nor is it fair to retailers who have set up shop and hired employees in Idaho.
Barrett still calls this a tax increase. It's not. The tax is due. It's been on the books since 1965.
Barrett is serving her 11th term. Isn't it time she catch on?
Roads will have to wait
Post Register (Idaho Falls)
CHEERS to Senate Transportation Chairman Bert Brackett, R-Rogerson. A task force chaired by Lt. Gov. Brad Little determined that Idaho needs to spend $540 million more annually than it does today to maintain and improve roads and bridges.
Brackett recently introduced four bills, not for debate this year, to send a message that this is something Idahoans can no longer ignore and to inspire a discussion between now and the 2014 session.
Brackett's bills call for increases in the gas tax and registration and other fees totaling hundreds of millions of dollars. Those who think this discussion unnecessary need look no further than Rigby, where a bridge used by 3,000 vehicles daily was recently condemned by the Idaho Transportation Department.