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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
208.726.8060 Voice
208.726.2329 Fax

Copyright © 2002 Express Publishing Inc.
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 

For the week of November 20 - 26, 2002


End the dithering—
and lead

Idaho is staring at an estimated $160 million revenue shortfall next year.

So far, it looks like a deer in the headlights of an oncoming train.

The issue is screaming for leadership, but getting none.

With little more than a month until the Legislature convenes, neither Gov. Dirk Kempthorne nor Republican leaders have put forth any kind of plan for dealing with the shortfall.

Democrats are laying low, saying that it’s the Republican majority’s responsibility to figure out how to get out of the hole it dug in the state’s finances.

It’s time the ducking and weaving on the state’s toughest issue ended.

Kempthorne has a special obligation to come up with solutions. He created the problem when he refused to veto a $100 million permanent tax cut passed by the Legislature. He could have forced a one-time tax cut, or forced the Legislature to override his veto, but did neither.

During his re-election campaign, Kempthorne handed off the hot potato to a 47-member Blue Ribbon committee made up of business leaders, which has yet to weigh in on the matter.

Speaking to legislators last week, he offered nothing more than his promise to forge an alliance with them to solve the problem.

He should fire up the forge pretty soon. Barring some economic miracle, the Legislature will face an unpalatable choice in January: Dismember critical state programs for schools and other departments, or raise taxes.

Some legislators are whispering—post-election, of course—that a sales tax increase could make up the shortfall that was created by the income tax reduction.

The suggestion is so ridiculous—to replace a fair and progressive tax with a regressive tax that falls on those least able to pay—that it could be wildly popular in the next Legislative session.

Kempthorne should threaten to veto the idea now—before it goes further.

The election is over. It’s time for Idaho leaders to quit dithering—and lead.



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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.