Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Three ways to help the budget

I think that the criticism that being unwilling to vote to cut programs without another solution is right on. After all, as a state legislator, I along with the rest of the legislature have the constitutional requirement to balance the budget. Last year I was more than just a little hesitant about cutting programs, especially in education (at all levels) and Medicaid. This year, those cuts are looking like they may be even more draconian than ever before. In order show that I am serious about finding solutions, I have come up with the following three ideas to help trim the state budget, so that cuts to vital programs can be minimized.

  1. Modify the property tax legislation from the 2006 Extraordinary Session to only apply to owner occupied residences,
  2. Institute a new program for paroling and otherwise taking non-violent offenders out of our expensive prisons and into other forms of corrections (e.g. house arrest, work release, etc.), and
  3. Restructuring of state government by combining some state agencies, where doing so makes sense both fiscally and from an operations standpoint.

While there are many other solutions, and these three ideas aren't the panacea for our budget woes, they certainly would make a significant dent in the budget shortfall. In the upcoming days and weeks, I'll provide more details and data about my ideas and explain why I think that they are superior to simply cutting state programs that serve Idahoans. Stay tuned.