Gov. Brad Little introduced a proposal to increase funding for programs that promote diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) by 21%. Through bolstering salaries and project funding in the Idaho Commission on Hispanic Affairs, these insidious initiatives are allowed to thrive in what many would traditionally perceive as a conservative state government. With DEI policies tearing apart our nation, Idaho cannot afford to permit the gradual expansion of these leftist programs.
In whole, the commission resembles that of a government-sponsored lobbying group for social justice initiatives in education, healthcare, and commerce. The $418,000 budget funds the salaries of three full-time employees, while additional operations and events are supported by private donations. Gov. Little’s budget increase for this year would give commission staffers a 5% bump in their pay and expand the agency.
One would expect that such a small bureaucratic organization would not have any real influence on policy throughout the state. However, this is not the case.
The Hispanic Commission’s 2021 Strategic Plan clearly outlines its primary goal of promoting “economic, educational, and social equity” for Hispanic residents throughout the state. To accomplish these goals, the commission partners with lobbying arms of other state agencies to influence public policy. In fact, commission members note that their success depends upon their ability to change institutional practices “by partnering with state agencies to assure equity and access to culturally competent programs and services; by reviewing state agency policies, practices, and procedures; and by making recommendations that will drive improved delivery of state services and resources.”
Building on agency-focused policy change, voter composition of the state is given strategic attention by the commission. Near the end of its strategic plan, the commission outlines initiatives to collect voting data on Hispanics in Idaho, bolster opportunities for immigrants to become citizens, and increase voter registration for particular groups in hopes to leverage social justice initiatives at the ballot box.
The problem with redirecting public policy to focus on a specific minority group is that they make up a small sample of a population suffering from a larger problem. For example, Hispanics only make up 12% of the total number of unemployed Idahoans in the state, so policy initiatives that focus on this group blatantly ignore the remaining 88% of unemployed residents (including non-Hispanic minorities). Thus, commission members effectively ignore the root of the problem and only work to fix its symptoms.
In the context of the governor’s 2023 budget proposal, the “solutions” that the commission produces are only redundant expenditures. Its goals are to decrease the academic achievement gap in education and to improve access and use of healthcare, but the governor already proposed $107 million in state contributions to similar education initiatives. He is also requesting $186 million to address issues concerning “social and behavioral determinants of health” and healthcare access.
The only part of the Hispanic Commission’s strategic plan the governor hasn’t addressed is increasing Hispanic buying power, which is defined as a household’s income after taxes. Repealing the grocery tax or rewriting the property tax formula would accomplish this goal by helping all Idahoans. However, these solutions are absent in the face of the commission’s push for affirmative action-like policies and entitlement programs.
It is time for the Idaho Legislature to defund the Hispanic Commission and its social justice initiatives, rather than boosting them.
Cutting funding for agencies like the Hispanic Commission would be a start toward removing the racial lens through which our executive agencies view policy administration. Through this perspective, the government is viewing an entire group of Idahoans based on superficial characteristics and then subjecting them to special study and pandering in response.
Building a more prosperous Idaho will always require the removal of big government programs that only suit political objectives and exacerbate the problems constituents face. Defunding the Commission on Hispanic Affairs is a good start to curbing the pervasive and toxic ideology of DEI in policymaking.
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