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Posts published in “Day: April 29, 2021”

Killing budgets


During the four years I served on the Joint Finance and Appropriations Committee (JFAC) I worked with many fellow members to craft budgets for where the state should spend the taxpayers’ dollars. Most of the time, as a minority Democrat I was working with Republicans, since that’s the main flavor in the Idaho Statehouse. But when considering how money should be spent, it really was about common sense, not political idealism.

We would get together and pore over the information and negotiate. Sometimes you could get something cut here, then someone would want to add something there and there would be honest negotiating. It was hard work but rewarding.

We knew our job was not to make policy but balance the budget.

So, when the Idaho House votes to kill budgets, I’m scratching my head. Are they saying their colleagues on JFAC aren’t doing their work? If so, they should be lobbying to get onto JFAC and do the work themselves. It’s tough work, but not beyond their effort, I am sure.

Or are they wanting this state agency to behave differently? If that is the case, they can write a law directing the agency with new policy and direction. I can see they are doing that with “Social Justice”, “Critical Race Theory” legislation. Read House Bill 377 please. The bill states it is a public policy that no public school shall:

“direct or otherwise compel students to personally affirm, adopt, or adhere to any of the following tenets…” I guess the legislature, and the Freedom Foundation don’t trust our public-school teachers to behave professionally.
Indoctrination is not education. Wayne Hoffman and Richard Butler both graduated from public schools and attended public colleges. Maybe that was before this “social justice” threat. They both managed to grow up and think for themselves.

Maybe the “NO” voters just want this branch of government to go away. For the four years I built the Idaho Health and Welfare budgets, there would be 5-10 “NO” votes in the Senate, and 20-25 “NO” votes in the House. Nobody every spoke to me about the specifics of how this money should be spent differently. If there was any debate against the budget in the Senate, it was about “too big” or “not the role of government”. Which again, could have been addressed with legislation to eliminate the Division of Welfare, or the Division of Medicaid, or any of the other parts of DHW. But those bills never came up.

A colleague explained it to me. Legislators get negative points on the Idaho Freedom Foundation Index if they vote for a budget. And LOTS of negative points for voting for the Health and Welfare budgets. IFF keeps score. If you want a good Freedom Index score, vote the way they tell you to. I would argue the IFF is working hard to indoctrinate legislators. And they are doing a great job of it.

It looks like this session the IFF has put the bullseye on education funding, both higher ed and K12, with the social justice boogeyman as the excuse.

The Idaho House killed a budget for K12 teacher pay. They also killed the higher ed budget. And the Federal Money from the Trump administration for preschool support got killed. Representative Shepherd (R-Riggins) said it clearly, when asked if he would support the Preschool grant. “And if I cannot educate them (the voters) on what the bill actually does in time, at this point it’s almost political suicide for me to support the bill.” I guess he’s not free to think for himself. He’s watching his Freedom Index.

Promoting good schools is a noble cause. I just don’t see the boogeyman the IFF has carted out for us. If Idaho legislators want to fight indoctrination, they should start thinking for themselves and not pandering to their Freedom Index.