What do Idaho Democrats stand for?
By Rep. Roy Lacey
During the last months a few articles have been printed in this paper with political overtones which have pointed toward the “tax and spend” and the desire to make Idaho a welfare state all pointed toward the Democratic Party.
Others continue to attempt to paint a picture of what an Idaho Democrat stands for which is generally not factual. Not all the printed word is factual, but people that read the paper faithfully can be swayed one way or the other with what is published. It is not up to the newspaper staff to insure that every word is correct, only to print what some of its constituents write as their opinion, so no criticism of this newspaper.
The Idaho Democrats are very much a minority in the Idaho Legislature. The Idaho Republicans have a “super-majority” and pretty much control what happens in the making of laws in the state which includes the setting of taxes. This was very evident this last session when the decision was made to give the top 18 percent of Idahoans a tax break.
There was no consideration of the “common” man, the middle class or the poor in this decision. There were other suggestions by the Democrats, such as reduce or eliminate the sales tax on groceries or to provide the relief to the lower earners to no avail. The reduction of sales tax on groceries or lower taxes for the common folk would have resulted in the money being immediately recirculated in the economy which would be a more sound policy for job creation.
Giving money back to the top 18 percent was touted as creating jobs, but until someone begins to buy items no jobs will be created and the money will just be added to the coffers of the already wealthy. While Idaho could not afford a tax cut at this time, if one was going to be instituted, why not give it to those who need it the most and would put it back into circulation quickly.
Other “tax Idahoans and spend it” on special projects would include the recent closed primary. The Republican Party sued the state of Idaho wanting a closed primary to “cleanse the ranks”. When the suit was successful, the Legislature passed a bill that required the state to pay the Republican Party $100,000 for legal fees.
In other words, a law was created to pay for a bill incurred by the Republican Party – paid for by the loyal citizens of the State of Idaho. If that isn’t enough the cost to have a closed primary is an additional $220,000 each time it is held – again paid for by the taxpayers of Idaho. All of this so some can have a private party of sorts.
Another interesting piece of legislation was run late in the session in 2012. As a bit of a base line, the Legislature has access to and does use the Attorney General’s Office to determine the constitutionally and the practicality of any legislation that is proposed. The Attorney General’s Office does a wonderful job and responds in a timely manner and has a budget of several hundred thousand dollars a year to provide this service. This is a good service and works well.
However, there are times when this office will render an opinion that something may be unconstitutional – even if the leadership of the majority party wants to make a law. An example would be the nullification legislation that was presented many times during 2011. To circumvent any interference with what leadership wants, a new fund of $200,000 was set up at the discretion of the Speaker of the House so a favorable opinion can be sought. Again, paid for by the citizens of Idaho – you and me.
So, let’s spend a couple of lines talking about what the Idaho Democrats stand for. This last year there were six pieces of legislation for creation of jobs – all prepared and presented by Democrats. Only one of the six made any headway and was passed in the House, but was stymied in the Senate. The Democrats called for ethics reform as the Legislature is in disorder as evidenced by so many violations of rules. While there was a committee formed to create a citizens committee nothing came of this measure due to lack of cooperation and there was some legislation passed in the Senate late in the session that made it even more difficult to bring ethics charges.
The Democrats have stood up for the poor, the disabled and others as services were cut, for the children as school budgets were slashed. The budgets for the last two or more years have been consistently “low balled” to create an “excess” so a tax break could be given to the rich – all of this on the backs of the ordinary taxpayer. The Idaho Democrats stand for the middle class, helping those who are less fortunate and believe that the way to prosperity is the creation of jobs. The Idaho Democrats listen to the people of Idaho and the interests and well-being of the common man are paramount in our concerns.
Roy Lacey of Pocatello is a Democratic member of the Idaho House of Representatives.