Time for lawmakers to deliver on Freedom Foundation’s agenda

The 64th legislative session that’s about to begin Jan. 9 has the potential be a game changer, one that builds upon a clear, voter-led directive to change how government operates.

Elected officials can embrace an aggressive, pro-freedom agenda that leaves Idahoans with more money in their pockets and greater opportunities for themselves, their families and communities.

Idaho Freedom Foundation executive director Wayne Hoffman
Idaho Freedom Foundation executive director Wayne Hoffman

The next few months provide state legislators an opportunity to show the rest of the country that Idaho still retains its sense of western independence and can lead when it comes to conservatives policies that have proven time and time again to invigorate the economy.

To help Idaho shine, Idaho Freedom Foundation has compiled ideas for our elected officials to advance. Below is a partial list, a starting point for the possible.

Fiscal policies

  • Cut taxes. Around $200 million in cuts is doable if lawmakers aggressively restrain spending. If lawmakers commit to no tax cuts (something the governor has already indicated is his preference) or they offer up anything less than $100 million, you’ll know they’re not trying hard.

  • Along with tax cuts, repeal the grocery tax and the grocery tax credit. Give Idahoans instant relief at the checkout line.

  • Reduce the rate of spending growth. End the massive annual spending increases that have caused the state budget to grow by one-third in just six years.
  • Dedicate a portion of general fund money to highways and bridge repair and construction.
  • Eliminate the ill-conceived hybrid vehicle tax that lawmakers passed in 2015.
  • Reduce the state’s reliance on federal grants and put in place new restrictions on the acceptance of federal grants by state agencies.

Local government

  • Stop local governments from using taxpayer resources to promote tax increases, as occurred during 2016 in school and other taxing districts throughout Idaho.

  • Reform the state’s property tax system. Allow local governments to opt-out of being able to make use — in the future — of uncollected property tax dollars known as “forgone balances.”

Education

  • Pass education reforms that put the needs of students ahead of the needs of the education system.

  • End the state’s involvement in Common Core.

  • Give school boards greater the ability to decide whether they negotiate with labor unions and, if negotiations do occur, protect teachers’ right to a secret ballot in the selection of which group represents them at the bargaining table.

  • Repeal the state regulations that give labor unions the exclusive right to use school property for their elections.

Government reform

  • Pass ethics reforms, make it illegal for politicians to accept gifts from lobbyists and other special interests.

  • To reduce conflict-of-interests, remove politicians and special interest groups–including education and government lobbying groups–from the state retirement program.

  • Get government employee healthcare expenses under control through the use of self-insurance programs, health savings accounts, direct primary care programs and other innovative solutions that have been demonstrated to improve quality and contain costs.

  • End the House of Representatives’ prohibition on video recording and photographing our elected officials as they meet in committee and on the floor.

Healthcare

  • Reform the state’s health insurance laws, allow insurance to be bought and sold across state lines and build the foundation for a competitive insurance marketplace post-Obamacare.

  • Do not expand costly Medicaid. To help those in need, expand the use of charities in the delivery of medical services.

Criminal justice

  • De-criminalize the use of non-psychoactive cannabis lotions and extracts that are used to treat epilepsy and chronic pain.

  • Pass civil-asset forfeiture reform, prevent law enforcement from seizing people’s property without a person having been convicted of a crime.

The opportunities and ideas cited above are described in greater detail at IdahoFreedom.org. Early last November, Idahoans clearly gave policymakers a mandate to support such ideas and conservative principles. It’s time for our elected officials to deliver. More importantly, it’s up to us — you and I — to commit to holding our elected officials accountable for that end result.

Written by Wayne Hoffman, the executive director of the Idaho Freedom Foundation.

 

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