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Opinion: For Idaho Legislature, so much to do and so little time

Opinion: For Idaho Legislature, so much to do and so little time

Wayne Hoffman
January 9, 2015
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January 9, 2015

Here is the path we hope lawmakers forge in 2015:

Cut taxes. Help families and individuals. Let people keep their own money in their own wallets. Want to really help every single Idahoan this year? Get rid of the grocery tax. Really, deeply cut marginal income tax rates. Don’t settle for an unambitious 0.1 percent cut in tax rates. Dig deep. Be bold when it comes to making our tax structure competitive with other states. Get rid of the personal property tax.

Cutting taxes also requires keeping spending in check. Last year, the Legislature voted to increase spending by 7 percent (when all the accounting gimmicks are included). Don’t do that again. Do get government lean.

Don’t give local governments more power to tax people.

Don’t tax the Internet.

Don’t raise gas taxes. Do find other ways, within existing resources, to pay for public infrastructure needs.

Continue the fight for Idaho ownership of public lands. Help counties make land within their borders productive again.

Continue to remove gun restrictions on law-abiding citizens.

Pick up from Gov. Butch Otter’s executive order regarding federal funds and really start to prepare for the possible decline in money from Washington, D.C. Understand what federal funds are buying, measure the effectiveness and the costs associated with federally funded programs and take actions necessary to protect constituents from future cuts.

Reject Medicaid expansion; instead, advance polices that improve patient care, improve access to doctors and contain costs, such as Direct Primary Care and access to free and low-cost community health clinics. Audit Medicaid to be sure no one is receiving services that shouldn’t.

Give patients the right to try medicines and medical procedures that may make a difference for them.

Get rid of the state’s expensive and unaccountable single-payer health care system.

Allow the sale of insurance across state lines.

Promote higher wages for Idahoans by getting government out of managing the economy. Don’t expand crony tax breaks that reward the politically well connected.

Codify the Land Board’s decision to stop investing in commercial properties.

Don’t put up new barriers that make it harder for people to enter the career of their choice. Defend people’s right to earn a living and provide for themselves and their families.

Reject tiered licensure, a scheme that will only discourage young, energetic, entrepreneurial teachers. Give power to parents. Let them decide whether their kids should take the SBAC test.

Reconsider Common Core, as other states have done. Don’t just blindly refill the education budget. Make the money we’re spending now money go further.

Investigate the Idaho Education Network mess.

Understand what went wrong with the private prison contract. Hold hearings. Use your subpoena power if you need to. Get answers. Hold people accountable. Review and reform contract processes so these disasters don’t occur again.

Don’t expand urban renewal. Urban renewal has become a tool to raise spending for pet projects without getting permission of voters; stop letting taxpayers be tricked into thinking they’re getting something for nothing.

Stop cities from using trash franchise fees to drop more expenses on residents and businesses.

Fix the state pension system. Start by getting private lobbying organizations out of the program, and eliminate the pension prize legislators get when they trade their part-time positions for full-time state or local government jobs.

Require open meetings for labor negotiations. Cement the right of Idahoans to record their elected officials. Modernize the state’s public records law.

Most importantly, consider freedom. When you leave Boise, Idahoans should be as free to experience full the breadth of economic opportunity that this country has to offer as when you arrived.

Idaho legislature 

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