DJEERS ... to Idaho House Majority Leader Mike Moyle, R-Star.
In September, Idaho’s unemployment rate was 2.3 percent — seventh lowest in the nation.
In August, 745,000 Idahoans were working. Idaho has had the nation’s 11th fastest job growth in the past decade.
In the second quarter, Idahoans produced $80.45 billion worth of goods and services. In 10 years, the size of Idaho’s economic output has expanded by 51.2 percent, well ahead of the national gross domestic product expansion of 48.7 percent during that time.
The state is booming. Yet, the Idaho budget — which pays for everything from public schools to colleges and universities, from health care to prisons — is gasping for air.
Gov. Brad Little put everything not related to K-12 on a diet.
He wants state budgets cut 1 percent. And before they prepare requests for next year, the governor wants agencies to reduce base budgets by 2 percent.
Why is the state so short of money? Ask Moyle.
About two years ago, Moyle and his GOP allies insisted their income tax cut package would cost $105 million.
Skeptics, such as the Idaho Center for Fiscal Policy, argued passing such a massive bill so soon was foolhardy and suggested the measure might pull $179 million out of the treasury.
They were right.
After watching income tax collections fall short month after month, Little’s budget shop has already acknowledged what once had been a $173 million budget cushion was now down to $51 million (and might have melted away to $11 million if not for an earlier transfer of $40 million) and lowered its economic outlook for the year.
Now the governor is beginning the process of cutting budgets that will affect your health, your career, your safety and possibly what you pay in property taxes, too.
Moyle got us into this hole
Don’t expect this irresponsible legislator to get us out of it.
CCHEERS ... to state Sen. Dan Johnson, R-Lewiston.
When the 2018 income tax bill emerged, Johnson was one of three Republicans — the others were former Sens. Shawn Keogh of Sandpoint and Jeff Siddoway of Terreton — to vote no.
At the time, Johnson was serving as chairman of the Senate’s tax committee. Since then, Senate GOP leadership not only took away his chairmanship, but transferred Johnson off the committee entirely.
That didn’t stop him. Earlier this year, Johnson was among three lawmakers — along with Rep. Steve Berch, D-Boise and Sen. Bert Brackett, R-Rogerson — to see through an unusually deceptive fiscal impact statement that obscured a $45 million loss and presented it as a $7.7 million gain. It’s one reason why Idaho’s corporate income tax collections are projected to drop $20 million this year.
The latest budget problems remove all doubt. Johnson lost his chairmanship, but he was right.
DJEERS ... to state Rep. Gary Marshall, R-Idaho Falls.
He spent a dozen years as a teacher and administrator in the Idaho Falls schools.
For almost three decades, he has served on the faculty of Brigham Young University-Idaho at Rexburg.
He is a member of the House Education Committee.
And Marshall has been one of Gov. Little’s appointees on his education reform task force.
Marshall is no novice when it comes to education.
But he talks like one.
This week, he not only opposed the task force’s recommendation to ease Idaho’s transition to all-day kindergarten, but he was gaslighting the issue as well.
“Over the summer, I’ve heard a lot of talk about how 60 percent of kids are not ready for kindergarten,” he said. “ ... The real answer is all kids are ready for kindergarten. We have to take them where they are at and do our very best.”
How can he ignore Idaho’s Reading Indicator? It showed 57 percent of the children who entered Idaho’s kindergartens this fall were not prepared to learn.
How can he turn a blind eye toward evidence that suggests all-day kindergarten helps many children catch up with their peers?
How can he dismiss an Idaho Association for the Education of Young Children poll, which found 76 percent of voters — and 80 percent of parents — want the state to do more?
Go back to school, Rep. Marshall.
Begin by spending time with a kindergarten teacher.
DJEERS ... to state Sen. Jim Rice, R-Caldwell.
Rice and his Republican colleagues on a legislative panel seem bound and determined to take Medicaid expansion out of the hides of property taxpayers.
Covering the state’s share of expansion comes to about $42 million. The Legislature’s own budget office says Idaho can cover about $30 million with money Medicaid expansion saves on mental health, state inmate health care and catastrophic health care fund programs.
The rest could come from the state’s massive settlement with Big Tobacco.
Rice and the GOP insist on lifting $10 million from counties because, they say, Medicaid expansion will ease the burden of county medically indigent programs. But nobody knows in advance how much money will be saved.
Meanwhile, the GOP-led Legislature’s work requirement on Medicaid recipients will drive up state administrative expenses by at least $1.6 million — and if people are thrown off Medicaid, their medical bills will be borne by the property tax-supported county medically indigent program.
What’s the rush?
DJEERS... to cartoonist Daniel Brannan.
The Coeur d’Alene Press has tagged the northern Idaho artist as the source of a racist postcard demeaning Kootenai County Human Rights Task Force President Christie Wood, Coeur d’Alene Mayor Steve Widmyer and Love Lives Here CDA founder Laura Tenneson.
Brannan’s most previous work surfaced this summer on a postcard that mocked Boise State University President Marlene Tromp and the State Board of Education for their efforts to expand diversity on campus. In that case, the evidence linked Brannan with conspiratorialist talk show host Alex Jones.
Mailed on the eve of Tuesday’s election in which Wood was running for the city council, Brannan’s newest postcard has no such discernible fingerprints. So when it comes to writing this latest sorry chapter in northern Idaho’s troubled history, Brannan stands alone. — M.T.