Smoke and mirrors
in the Legislature
Guest opinion by WENDY JAQUET
The House minority leader, Rep. Wendy
Jaquet, D-Ketchum, represents District 25 in the Idaho Legislature. She can be
contacted by phone at 1-800-626-0471 or by e-mail at
Iím tired of smoke and mirrors. Itís time
for the Legislature to go home. The flowers are blooming and the trees are
budding. Theyíre mowing the lawns. My allergies have started.
Iím tired of hearing that we must cut
budgets 7.1 percent because "we have no money." So many of you attended the
Joint Finance and Appropriations hearings and said we could handle a tax
increase. So many of you said "donít cut education or our colleges and
universities." We need a strong education system for our state recovery.
And yet the Republican Party, the majority
party, has been rolling out 7.1 percent budget cuts to various departments,
including Water Resources, the Department of Environmental Quality, Agriculture
and the Department of Commerce, while they disingenuously wring their hands,
telling us "we just donít have the revenue." Smoke and mirrors.
Pointing fingers at the governor is
getting tiresome. "We couldnít do anything without the Governorís tax package"
they say. Well, not only did Gov. Dirk Kempthorne outline his tax package in
January, he repeatedly stated that he would not accept any more cuts to
education which apparently the majority party has not taken seriously. More
smoke and mirrors.
Then they hold a closed meeting of only
Republican members of the Revenue and Taxation Committee convened by the Speaker
of the House Bruce Newcomb to "explain" the technicalities of motions to send a
budget bill to the floor. First of all, isnít this the role of the chairwoman,
Rep. Dolores Crow, R-Nampa? Didnít she do it at the first meeting of the
session? Havenít they read about all the possible motions outlined on the inside
cover of the minute book given to each member of the committee? What were they
really talking about for 15 minutes behind closed doors? Smoke and mirrors.
And itís a work session to develop a tax
package to create the needed revenues. A work session on the 84th day of the
session! Not one revenue-increasing bill has come out of the Revenue and
Taxation Committee to date. A committee which is "so busy," it meets for an hour
a day. While the rest of us go to committee meetings at 8:30 or 9 in the
morning, the Revenue and Taxation chairwoman calls her meetings at 10 a.m.
Hardworking? Busy? Smoke and mirrors.
Democrats have submitted possible
revenue-increasing bills to the Revenue and Taxation Committee chairwoman for
the last several weeks. We have eighteen bills in committee waiting for a
hearing. Our constituents deserve to have this Legislature act democratically.
The chairwoman wonít schedule the Democratsí omnibus bill for a hearing. She
calls it in the newspaper "just a sheaf of papers." This particular bill was
worked on by our caucus for almost six weeks, it was "vetted" by Division of
Financial Management and Joint Finance and Appropriations Committee staffers.
Sheís smoke and mirrors.
I have tried to be a part of the public
policy team, to provide leadership around good solutions for our budget
situation. I treat my fellow legislators with respect. I expect my caucus to be
treated with the same kind of respect. Respect? Itís smoke and mirrors.
The people of our state should be
outraged. Look beyond the smoke and mirrors.