Friday, April 7, 2006

State foolishness penalized


Listen to Idaho state legislators whine when they look for ways to reject worthwhile spending measures as being unaffordable.

One reason can be found in the Republican-controlled Legislature's pig-headed, foolhardy spending and wasted time on causes—religious and otherwise—that go nowhere.

Lawmakers got a measure of deserved comeuppance the other day when U.S. District Judge Mikel Williams ordered the state to pay $380,500 to Planned Parenthood for attorneys' costs in the group's winning lawsuit over Idaho's parental-consent abortion law, which was declared unconstitutional. Unfortunately, the penalty comes out of the hide of taxpayers.

This is on top of $350,000 already spent on lawyers hired separately by the Legislature since 2000 to fight Planned Parenthood. Imagine how $730,000 might have been put to better use, and how many times Republican committee chairs killed beneficial spending while quickly, willingly subsidizing political shenanigans and claiming the cupboard was bare?

But wait: Republican Rep. Bill Sali, of Kuna, is trying to palm off another version of the same sort of parental consent law—a version that even the state attorney general's office finds so flawed constitutionally it couldn't give the bill the green light.

This wastrel spending may be peanuts. Just wait until legal costs are toted up for the obstinate Legislature's decade-long dodge-and-weave refusal to abide by a court's order to adequately fund public school repairs.

Although Idaho has big problems to solve, the state seems managed by small minds who rationalize wasteful spending on lost causes rather than meeting genuine needs of citizens as a whole.




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