There is no question that budget cuts will be necessary to help Idaho weather this storm; however, it is important that these be carefully thought out, and not just slapdash efforts to appear responsible.
I can't comment on cuts to any other state agency budget, but I am pretty familiar with what is being done to the poor and disabled people served by the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, and the professional and para-professional staff who work with them. In order to make the original 1% cut, the Dept. announced significant reductions to direct services to poor people with mental illness or developmental disabilities. These will go into effect on January 1, 2009, with more to come.
What is obscene about this is that state officials KNOW this will not actually save money! You see, Idaho is what is called a "donee state," which means that more money comes into the state from federal taxes than goes out. 70 cents of every dollar spent on Medicaid programs in Idaho comes into the state by way of Washington, DC, from other "donor states," such as California. Since the largest expense in any such program is payroll, most of that money stays right here in Idaho - or it would, if the programs were not being cut! These shortsighted reductions don't just hurt the patients served, but they will also hurt Idaho's bottom line! Employees of these programs are already being informed of layoffs, and will shortly start collecting unemployment benefits. They will not be paying state income taxes on the wages they don't earn, further reducing the state's general fund. And some of the patients served, lacking the safety net that has enabled them to remain in the community, will end up in state hospitals and institutions, at far greater expense to the taxpayer!
So, why would the governor and his minions want to do this? To create the IMPRESSION of fiscal responsibility. After all, the average taxpayer / voter isn't going to bother to research the details of how these programs are funded. And besides, poor and disabled people don't vote. So let's go after them. Nobody will really care! Right?
I have noticed over the years, and it wasn't that long ago, that the heirarchy of politicians have voted themself's pay raises year after year. Now with that being known, How often do you hear that they are going to take a PAY CUT?
The State Government of Idaho has evolved into a baby sitting entity, that is forced to serve transplants from other states, that move to Idaho, to make availible what they were used to from where they came. Not necessarily the Idaho Way. But, Cut Those programs, Close up some Golf Coarses, Tax the Heck out of RV's, offroad vehicles, tourism, private planes/jets, Gas guzzler autos, new homes that exceed the means for the occupants, ect. And take away state and federal subsidies to farmers who are getting paid, NOT to grow crops on their property. Give tax breaks to people who have tree farms, There are alot of ways to get money, instead of sending out State of Idaho ATF agents with minors to make sting arrests for selling alcohol or cigarettes to minors, when the state should be arrested for encouraging minors to buy alcohol or cigs in the first place. There really are alot of things that don't make sense, and alot of politicians who don't make sense as leaders too. these days.
As for the forests in the state of Idaho, If I was working in the timber industries, I would be ashamed to call myself a forester, these days.
They clearcut off timber these days, and it looks 4-6 times worse than 30 years ago. I managed to get out when gas was at a rediculous price of close to 5 bux a gallon.
The State should be getting excessive tax from the urainium miners in southern Idaho in Blaine County. Where and how much are the state taxing those people? The State needs to be thoroughly examined, imo, by the Central Idaho Agency for compliance and Means, for the State employees are out of control, alot like the federal government in spending sprees, that do not benefit the Citizens of this country
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