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Actions, Words, and the “True Conservative”

Actions, Words, and the “True Conservative”

Ronald M. Nate, Ph.D.
March 12, 2024

Occasionally a bill or two comes before the Idaho Legislature truly showing the principles of the legislators voting for it versus those voting against it.  Look at two bills this session: House bill 468 (Rangeland Improvement Act) and House bill 595 (Outcomes-Based Education).

House Bill 468 would establish a "rangeland improvement account" in the state treasury and instruct the Idaho State Department of Agriculture "to seek appropriation and to receive contributions, gifts, and grants for the purpose of carrying out the provisions of this chapter."

This bill would task the department with using these funds to pursue a broad range of responsibilities and goals, including "rangeland improvement and maintenance; the control of predatory and depredating animals; the control, management, or extermination of invading species, rangeland damaging organisms, and poisonous or noxious weeds; any other management tool that benefits a grazing district; watershed protection, development, distribution, and improvement; the general welfare of livestock grazing within a grazing district; and costs to monitor rangeland improvement projects."

In short, the bill would expand government, spend more money, make Idaho more dependent on the federal government, to the benefit of a particular interest group (ranchers). Does this sound like a conservative proposal to you?

The second bill, H595, would allocate school funds based on student performance in grades 5 through 8. Students who demonstrate improvement or sustained proficiency in math will draw more money to their districts and their schools.  

So, while spending north of $3 billion on public education already, student performance is abysmal and not improving, and as usual, the proposal is to throw more money at it to supposedly incentivize educators to do the job they are already tasked with, but better? It spends money, expands bureaucracy, and does it in a system already immune to monetary incentives. Does this sound like a conservative proposal to you?

So, you see the campaign ad: “Vote for a True Conservative, Joe Blow for Idaho House.”

For those already in the legislature, bills like these shine a spotlight on their conservative realities. The Rangeland Improvement Act (H468) passed the House, 58-9. The Outcome-Based Education bill (H595) passed the House, 41-28. Many of those 58 and 41 “aye” votes are from legislators claiming to be conservative.   

Conservative candidates will tell you they are for limited government, reducing taxes, restoring freedoms, and protecting individual rights. These two bills come very close to testing the convictions of candidates claiming to be conservative.  Both bills are affronts to conservative values and are real-time, tip of the spear, litmus tests. Many legislators fail the tests.

For a more comprehensive view of conservative claims versus conservative actions, go to the Idaho Freedom Index to see how legislators’ votes on hundreds of bills stack up against the freedom and conservative principles the bills affect: like limited government, lower spending, protecting rights, expanding freedom, being free of federal control, etc. 

Actions speak louder than words. At the Idaho Statehouse, words are plenty and words are deceptive, but the votes don’t lie.  Be informed, follow the IFF research and Freedom Index, and be powerful!

Idaho Freedom Foundation
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