Franchise fees: Hidden tax that skirts accountability

During the last two decades, increasing attention on property taxes and limitations on how much property tax can be collected has prompted local governments to get creative. Cities and counties are looking for new revenue where they can outside of the property tax system. And a lot of those creative efforts get little or no notice. My friend, Hubert Osborne, noticed one of those and complained. Last week, the Idaho Freedom Foundation’s Center for Defense of Liberty took up the issue for Hubert, filing a tort claim that suggests that the city of Nampa is collecting an illegal tax because
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More to spending than meets the eye

A recurrent theme of Idaho’s establishment reads that since the great recession, Idaho has underinvested in K-12 and higher education and has reaped the whirlwind. The belief is that Idaho’s ranking at the bottom on per pupil K-12 education spending corresponds to the lowly ranking on per capita income. Very little in-depth analysis is provided about the composition of the jobs that have declined, the reasons for those declines or the vast differences in the rural vs. urban economic landscapes. Virtually all of the discussion on education is focused on general fund education spending and per pupil spending. Interestingly, student
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Education reform starts with fixing school funding formula

Advocates for more public school spending certainly got a big boost last week from a report that shows school districts utilizing supplemental property tax levies more than ever—$188 million in the last budget year. But absent from the discussion is a larger question about how much it really takes to educate an Idaho school student. In Avery, it costs as much as $43,000 per student. Education from Midvale to Mullan costs between $13,000 and $17,000 a kid, according to the most recent State Department of Education data. Preston and Jerome clock in at about $4,700 a student. Charter schools come
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Idaho is not Scotland, but financial independency should not be ignored

The vote on whether Scotland would remain as part of the UK was not even close. The final tally had the vote for independence falling short by 10 percentage points. Pundits concluded that even though Scottish hearts wanted independence, their heads favored remaining in the UK. Perhaps we should not be surprised at this outcome. Scotland has a large welfare apparatus that depends heavily on London. Apparently a large voting bloc in Scotland associated voting for their wallets with voting with their heads. The British prime minister has promised greater power sharing with Scotland, perhaps a sign of magnanimity in
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The ‘living wage’ is a meaningless metric

Several news outlets in Idaho have published stories declaring that the “living wage” in Idaho is now $14.57 an hour for a single individual and a $25.12 an hour for a single parent with two children. That’s $30,000 and $52,000 a year respectively for those who think in terms of salaries rather than hourly wages. Another figure touted was that a full 70 percent of Idaho jobs failed to pay a living wage. In truth, these numbers are based on a report from the “Alliance for a Just Society,” and if the name doesn’t give you enough of a hint,
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