Saturday, March 10, 2007

Ironic, isn't it (H246)

Ironic, isn't it? When the House Revenue and Taxation Committee rejected H246, better known as the bill to allow for local option taxes for mass transit, it actually made a decision counter intuitive to everything that it claimed to be fighting for. Let me explain.

The so-called "Tax Hawks" on the Committee regularly say they want to do virtually anything they can to lower the taxes their constituents (or major corporate donors) pay. So given the fact that local option taxes would reduce the amount of transportation dollars needed by the Treasure Valley (assuming it were to pass), thus resulting in less tax burden, its curious at a minimum that they would reject this proposal. You see, as access to mass transit increases, then the need to continuing expanding lanes on I-84 and other road infrastructure decreases. This isn't just some liberal-hippie construct, its a fact of life that has played itself out throughout the country (even in our neighboring state of Utah who have embraced mass transit in major way).

The next irony is the anti-local control component. Throughout campaigns we hear how local control is important and how elected officials will give the power back to the people. These words even come out of the mouths of the members of the Committee, although they fail repeatedly to live that out. All I am saying is that if you really believe in local control then legislate like it.

Finally, there is the issue of air quality. Now, I know you are probably scratching your head on how this could possibly be an irony. Well, it follows similar logic as the first example. The folks that opposed the local option tax, also tend to really love their corporate donors. Now, I'd be remiss if I didn't said that virtually everyone benefits from corporate donation. Although I never really have, most legislators do. So how do corporate donors and air quality tie together? Simple. If the Treasure Valley continues its streak of poor air quality it will go in to what the EPA calls non-attainment, which could be avoided if we had better access to mass transit. Non-attainment will result in the Feds coming down hard and implementing a multitude of very restrictive environmental policies. These policies are sure to cramp everyone's style and pocketbooks, including the corporate donors. As a result, the margins will get smaller and they will have less money to donate to reelect the obstructionist that claimed to be legislating in their interests. Ironic, isn't it?

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Pre-k? Forget about it...

On Monday I experienced my first defeat on the floor of the House, but really it was the children of Idaho that lost out. Rep. Donna Pence and I tried our best to get our resolution, HCR18, through but it was opposed by the Keep Mom Home Coalition (KMHC). As you may recall, the KMHC first flexed its muscles when it said, "heck no" to mandating even limited requirements for Idaho childcare providers. Only in Idaho can you be a convicted sexual predator, meth addict, or just about anything else and still be permitted to get paid to watch someone else's children.

In regards to HCR18, it tried to do a few simple things. First, it would have had the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare and Department of Education work together to develop some standards for early childhood education. Second, it would have had DHW create a quality rating system for daycares so that parents would know what they were getting themselves into. Last, it would have tied the reimbursement rates for the Idaho Child Care Program (child care subsidy for low income families) to the programs with higher ratings. This one was a no brainer, just ask Idaho Statesman Editorial Board master Kevin Ritchert:

This isn't the last fight on this issue this legislative session, however. Yesterday the Senate narrowly passed another bill aimed at helping young children (S1079) by permitting school districts to offer services to 4 year olds, so long as no state resources were used in the process. Again, this bill looks pretty harmless, but that doesn't mean that KMHC won't do its darndest to fight against this bill.

I'll try to keep you all up-to-date as changes become available.