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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
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For the week of March 6 - 12, 2002


Shame on the elephant

The Idaho Legislature handed businesses and residents more than $100 million in permanent tax cuts last year.

The state’s economy was still rolling along with only minor bumps predicted in the road ahead.

That was then. This is the recession.

Last week, the Senate took an ax to public school funding and cut $23.3 million in state aid. The vote was 27-6. Only three Republicans and three Democrats couldn’t stomach the action.

It was the first time state aid to public schools has been reduced during a budget crisis. The reductions could have been avoided.

The Legislature’s Republican super-majority backed itself into a corner last year.

Republicans couldn’t fund education this year without raising taxes—an ideological anathema—because they cut taxes last year. So, ideology won. Kids lost.

Bigger class sizes, supply shortages, and fewer programs will hinder teachers at the same time the public is demanding better performance by students on standardized tests. The cuts will hit rural schools especially hard. This from legislators who talk constantly about protecting Idaho’s rural heritage.

Teachers were scheduled to gather on the steps of the Statehouse Tuesday to protest the cuts.

Republican lawmakers defended the cuts saying that "raising" taxes would put people out of business in order to save education.

They got it wrong. It’s Idaho kids who will be "out of business" when they try to enter a market where good jobs require a higher degree of education than the one they will receive. It’s Idaho businesses that will be "out of luck" when forced to meet global competition with a poorly prepared workforce.

Instead of trumpeting frugality, the GOP elephant should hang its head in shame.


The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.