For the week of January 13, 1999   thru January 19, 1999  

Kids’ issues are tops

New Idaho Gov. Dirk Kempthorne put kids’ issues at the top of his state of the state address Monday.

He told the Legislature he wants it to spend $2.5 million to pay for immunization and early childhood development programs, and $5.5 million on reading programs from the first through the third grade. He also called for full support of the state and federal Children’s Health Insurance Program recommended by a special task force last fall.

Legislators should support these initiatives by lighting the green buttons on the vote boards when the state budget comes before them. It will take more than a governor to make sure kids get the proper care and education in Idaho.

Legislators who are saying the governor’s proposal on school bond issues is dead on arrival ought to can the Scrooge rhetoric and offer a real alternative. With a $700 million backlog in construction and repairs of schools, the legislators have to do more than play Scrooge on the need to replace or rehab the state’s public schools.

Existing law requires that school bond issues be approved by a two-thirds super majority. This means the minority rules. One bond after another for construction of new schools has been defeated all over Idaho. The minority would still rule but lose some clout if the super majority were reduced to 60 percent, as Kempthorne has proposed.

Idaho has failed to protect and educate its children as well as it is able. We welcome Kempthorne’s proposals.

The state has had no shortage of legislators with a hawkeye on tax increases, but their sight has been less keen when it comes to the care and education of its smallest, most powerless citizens. Legislators should join the new governor and make Idaho a good place for kids.


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