We have a new president. The 115th Congress is about to begin with a clean slate. The Idaho Legislature will soon convene and consider many things, including a sizable budget surplus. There are new and promising developments all over Boise and the Treasure Valley — and just as many issues that need attention.
That said, here are a few of the New Year’s resolutions we propose for our community, state and nation as 2017 unfolds. Please share your resolutions for our leaders in an online comment, a Letter to the Editor, or an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Happy New Year.
Resolutions for the Treasure Valley
▪ The latest escape from the “tent jail” in Canyon County underscores a much bigger breach — the lack of community will, to date, to find the funding to build a proper jail. Public safety must trump politics. Resolve to make a plan.
▪ Boise and Valley Regional Transit have their new Downtown transit station, and now public transportation needs to take off and really go somewhere in the Treasure Valley. Any light rail or other connector dreams must be preceded by better bus service: extended hours and expanded routes — that’s where all cities with comprehensive public transportation systems start. Let’s resolve to identify the funding and work on this in 2017.
▪ As much as we love all of the new hotels and convention business likely headed for Boise at our new and expanded City Center Plaza, we wonder how all of the foot traffic will safely navigate the heavy vehicle traffic on Front and Myrtle. Something has to give — or a skyway bridge built to transport our visitors and citizens to and from these new, exciting venues.
▪ There is a lingering perception that the city of Boise pays too much attention to Downtown and the North and East ends, to the exclusion of the Bench and Southwest Boise. What if the City Council convened some meetings and Mayor Dave Bieter held some office hours on the Bench and in the growing Southwest on a more regular basis?
▪ The satellite libraries in the Boise Library system twinkle brightly. But we need a concerted, collaborative community effort to turn the Main Library into the system jewel offering all the bound collections, digital opportunities and meeting-place accoutrements a city as special as Boise deserves.
Resolutions for Idaho
▪ Regardless of whether the Affordable Care Act is repealed, revised or replaced, the Idaho Legislature must resolve to create policy to bring health insurance coverage options to those suffering Idahoans living without them.
▪ If the best government is that which is closest to home, state lawmakers must think twice before they impose unfunded mandates on cities and counties. Some issues are best decided with local control.
▪ Before we get too distracted by shiny new ways to spend a projected $139 million state budget surplus, let’s remember things like our commitment to restoring K-12 school funding and transportation infrastructure, which is sorely in need of attention.
Resolutions at the federal level
▪ Federal judicial appointments for Idaho and elsewhere in the nation succumbed to gridlock politics last year and throughout the last Congress. Our senators must get to work and get Judge David Nye’s name before President-elect Donald Trump so he can again be nominated, and then confirmed by the Senate. While they are at it, our senators need to figure out how to get Idaho a badly needed third Article III judge. Justice demands it.
▪ Idaho’s vast public lands and federal resources like Idaho National Laboratory will soon be on the radar of a new administration. Our congressional delegation has its work cut out for it in helping to influence the continuing stewardship and promise of these critical assets.
▪ Increased cybersecurity measures and infrastructure initiatives must proceed beyond campaign promises and be transformed into realities. Federal sites in Idaho such as INL can become even greater proving grounds to enhance our national security and sustainable energy productivity.
Unsigned Editorial Board opinions express the consensus of the Statesman’s Editorial Board. To comment on an editorial or suggest a topic, email editorial@idaho statesman.com.