"Overall hopeful." That's how a College of Idaho professor and an industry analyst, Steve Ackerman, describes his outlook on the Idaho economy. "But a lot is going to depend on our state government and how they deal with the federal government."
In an interview with IdahoReporter.com, Ackerman noted several obstacles that are creating challenges for private industry in the Gem State.
One big challenge, according to him, is the new federal health care law that is being implemented nationwide. "I've submitted this to our federal officials," he said. "We need to suspend two or three rules from the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).
According to him, one rule in particular that exists within the framework of the law is creating significant upheaval among businesses. "When I’ve gone around the state I've seen that with the uncertainty of the essential health benefits rule, that one rule alone, we see companies making a decision. They can either stay with insurance for their employees, which becomes an uncertain cost, or can default to the federal penalty, and pay the penalty which is a fixed cost."
He explained that most employers would "rather go with a fixed cost," and that's why so many employers are abandoning insurance coverage for their employees. He proposes that the Obamacare law be "shelved" for a year, so the U.S. Congress can "sort it out."
Ackerman also noted that while the summer's forest fires have damaged the logging and timber industry, existing regulatory policies are hurting the would-be timber and mining industries in Idaho. "The big statistic is that so many people leave the state to find similar jobs. These are now jobs that are lost, these are jobs that could have been there."
Full audio of the interview with Steve Ackerman can be heard HERE.
Note: IdahoReporter.com is published by the Idaho Freedom Foundation. Ackerman is a member of the board of scholars for the foundation.
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