Explained: How Democrats’ bad ideas drove down wages in Idaho

Dustin Hurst Articles

Eating humble pie is never easy.

I’m an expert on the subject lately.

There are a few others who need to take blame for poor ideas that manipulate the market and lead to unintended consequences and economic devastation.

Let us start with Idaho Democrats.

Take the Idaho Statesman’s recent revelation that airline carrier United will outsource its Boise operations to SkyWest, the first company to receive a piece of the corporate welfare pie under a plan approved in 2014. That plan allows companies to receive tax reimbursements for certain levels of capital and human investment in Idaho.

Since last July when the plan became law, we’ve heard mostly success stories of the program. Only because of this package, the Department of Commerce told us, was Idaho able to draw food producer Amy’s Kitchen to Pocatello or a new hotel in the Sun Valley area.

Then, the Idaho Statesman dropped a bomb on market manipulation and crony capitalism. The SkyWest project, lauded as a key investment to raise wages and grow the economy, is doing exactly the opposite. Some displaced United workers could either resign or work for significantly less money.

The department’s line? They told the reporter “no one from the agency knew United would outsource the jobs or that SkyWest would win the contract.”

Uh huh. I’m confident that’s completely true.

This is what happens when the state creates an atmosphere of unfair competition among business. United didn’t receive the perk, but used completely legal tactics to take advantage of SkyWest’s government handout. We shouldn’t fault United for that.

It’s not like state officials haven’t been repeatedly warned about their failure to properly centrally plan the Idaho economy.

Instead, let’s blame the idea and the purveyors of faulty economic theories.

Earlier this year, Democrats Roy Lacey, a senator from Pocatello, and Donna Pence, a House member from Gooding, eagerly took credit for the plan, which they said they presented a few years before its 2014 passage, largely by Republicans.

“The governor has noted that incentives helped bring the opportunity to Idaho workers,” said Sen. Michelle Stennett, D-Ketchum, the day after Gov. Butch Otter’s 2015 State of the State address in January.

“It’s good for Idaho,” Lacey said the same day. “Do you want to do what’s good for Idaho, or walk around with a crown on your head?

How about neither?

To be sure, the blame falls on all involved in this mess. Democrats crafted the idea and Republicans ran with it. The result?

“However you add this up, it looks like tax dollars that otherwise would have supported public schools lured a company to Idaho that is now helping to cannibalize higher-wage jobs in this state,” wrote the Lewiston Tribune’s super-left columnist Marty Trillhaase on Friday.

Poor fiscal policy knows no party boundaries. Shame on all of them.

Luckily, with a special session coming Monday to address a separate issue, Democrats can hold another press conference to repudiate failed economic ideas.