As of Tuesday, February 28, 2017
In a recent issue [Feb. 15] of the Free Press, former Commissioner Jim Chmelik took issue with an editorial I penned about Idaho’s very serious educational and economic needs.
Chmelik argues education is as simple as choice. Idaho’s parents are not short on choices when it comes to educating their kids. The problem is that Idaho rates with the likes of Alabama and Mississippi when it comes to educational achievement. And, our existing schools are among the worst funded in the nation. Local voters are forced to raise their property taxes at alarmingly unequal and unfair rates to support their local schools because the legislature won’t do its job.
Idaho Democrats are in the legislature advocating that we do our job, and fully fund education while simultaneously lowering property taxes. The politicians in charge are content with stifling opportunity for our kids. A fair tax policy in Idaho would lower property taxes for all and create a graduated income tax that would increase as income rises. This would ease the financial burden on middle class families, like mine, and many Idaho County residents with incomes of $30,000 - $50,000.
In addition, quality of life was mentioned pertaining to our air and water; I say, let’s fix our watersheds and improve our forest health. Let’s log conifer stands that once were aspen groves, helping them return to the forest and improve our ground water conditions. Let’s make money on logging, improve our soil conditions, watershed habitat, and aquifer health. We can preserve Idaho’s beauty and create jobs and economic opportunity at the same time.
Finally, Idaho Democrats have been travelling all over our beautiful state - including Grangeville recently - to packed town hall meetings where we are responding to all Idahoans. Indeed, I am writing this response for a newspaper 200 miles from my district. And I am happy to do so. Idaho Democrats will go anywhere and respond to anyone - regardless of party affiliation - about our vision for Idaho’s future. Can conservatives and Republicans say the same?
(D), Dist. 19 Rep. House Minority Leader