WestViews: Students should voice concerns

Opinions from newspapers in Idaho and the West commenting on Western issues

May 6, 2013 

STUDENTS SHOULD VOICE CONCERNS

Idaho Argonaut

After the eraser dust settles and final exams are over, many students will leave the University of Idaho campus to embark on summer adventures. While students are preoccupied with jobs and vacations, decisions will be made at the university that will impact the rest of their academic careers.

The departure of several key administrators this spring means the university will take steps to hire new leaders in the next few months. U of I is in search of a new president, provost and dean of the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences - to name just a few positions that are soon to be vacant.

U of I needs a president who has the vision to set long-term goals, but the drive to accomplish short-term goals students can see the results of during each academic school year. It's also important the president intends to stick around long enough to have a lasting impact. Students need a president who is committed to transparency and willing to step forward immediately as the voice of the university during times of crisis. The campus community needs a leader who can communicate effectively and make personal statements to reassure and direct the university.

M. Duane Nellis was U of I's fifth president in about 10 years. To retain and attract quality leaders, U of I needs to create a stimulating work environment with adequate pay for the work expected of them. U of I will continue to face difficulties of all kinds - from financial to educational - and the university needs strong leaders to maintain the quality education students have come to expect. As students leave campus in the next few weeks, we need to keep in mind what we expect from our future administrators. Make your wishes known to the Associated Students University of Idaho (ASUI) members who represent us, so they can take a stand for what we as a student body desire.

GETTING BEHIND INTERNET SALES TAX

Post Register, Idaho Falls

Give credit to Idaho's U.S. Sens. Jim Risch and Mike Crapo. Last week, Crapo and Risch got behind a concept widely misunderstood by their base and opposed by the special interests conservative Republicans often ally with.

A 1992 U.S. Supreme Court decision forbids states from requiring out-of-state retailers to collect that state's sales or use tax. And so, with the rise of the Internet, states such as Idaho annually miss out on millions in owed revenues and put their brick-and-mortar businesses at a disadvantage.

Risch and Crapo get this. Despite misguided opposition from groups such as the Heritage Foundation, the Senate, with the help of Crapo and Risch, moved closer to a vote on the Marketplace Fairness Act. That bill would allow state governments to force Internet retailers to collect taxes from customers and remit proceeds to state and local governments. That's the same standard required of brick-and-mortar businesses.

Idahoans who purchase items over the Internet are supposed to voluntarily pay the sales tax. That rarely happens, and the state loses between $35 million and $60 million in owed revenues annually. Just as troubling, Idaho's traditional businesses start each day at a 6 percent disadvantage. Common are the stories of people entering a store, conducting their research and heading home to make their purchases online.

Twenty-four states, including red states such as Utah, Arkansas, Georgia, Tennessee, West Virginia and Wyoming, are members of a consortium working together to make the transition as seamless as possible when Congress gives its green light. Idaho has refused to join. The culprit is a hard-right faction in the House Revenue & Taxation Committee that appears to have bought hook, line and sinker the misleading arguments being made by the Norquist/Heritage Foundation crowd.

Clearly, change will only happen if leadership in the Republican Party, specifically Gov. Butch Otter and House Speaker Scott Bedke, get serious about educating their rank and file.

The way to do that is to emphasize, over and over again, this truth: Collecting sales taxes on Internet purchases isn't a new tax. It's not a tax increase. It is, as Senate President Brent Hill, R-Rexburg, said to the Idaho Falls City Club on Friday, the logical step and right thing for anyone who cares about Idaho business.

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