Friday, February 5, 2010

Week Four Recap: Its all about jobs

Another week of the 2010 Legislative Session has come and gone. Things have been definitely cookin' and the weeks are beginning to blur together (already!). While Governor Otter continues to talk about ways to cut budgets and send mixed signals about everything from the Idaho Digital Learning Academy (IDLA) to the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation, I along with legislative Democrats have been putting forward a vision for how Idaho gets out of the mess it is in. In two words, job creation.

We've all heard about how high unemployment is to blame for the budget woes, so it seems to reason that we should actually try to get to the root of the problem. Simply trying slash and burn the budget will not create a single job (in fact it will result in ending many jobs, both public and private) and thus will not solve the real problem (or in fact actually make it worse)! I can personally say that the unemployment bug has bit my own family in a very real and direct way. I suspect that story of family is familiar to nearly all Idahoans. Thus, the need to find a solution is real to my family as well.

To be clear, much of what we are experiencing is a national problem and so efforts at the state-level alone will not be a panacea. However, I think situation is bigger than just the impact of legislation. It is also about attitude. Right now, I am hearing from Governor Otter a message of retreat and despair. I suspect that message does nothing to improve consumer confidence or restore hope in the entrepreneurial community.

Instead of saying what we can't do, I think it’s important to say what we can do. We need to tell consumers what we know, which is that good times will be here again. We need to tell entrepreneurs that we believe in their own goals and that we will stand behind them and provide them the tools they need to succeed. After all, if they succeed, our budget will improve and we will all benefit.

Okay, so now you may be saying, what are the specifics?! Idaho Democratic legislators have proposed six bills, known as the Idaho Jobs and Opportunity Blueprint (IJOBs). These bills have been getting hearings and are beginning to get traction. In addition to the IJOBs proposals, I have personally worked on a job creation bill known as the Micro Enterprise Development Authority (MEDA). This legislation was recently spotlighted in the Idaho Business Review. After spending several weeks listening and incorporating suggestions, I expect to submit the legislation to the House Business Committee early next week.

So as I stated a few weeks back, if this legislative session is really only about the budget, then it'll be a waste of taxpayer dollars. Now is the time to be innovative and thoughtful. Now is the time to think about how to get us out of the budget hole we are in. Now it’s all about jobs!

No comments: