Democrats came to the Capitol ready to make progress on issues of
importance to the people of Idaho. We listened to the Governor's state
of the state speech, set our own budget priorities and gave our own
response in which we said we agreed with many of the goals set by the
Governor, not necessarily the means toward them.
They ignored the advice of several statewide coalitions and working groups. They ignored "Moving Idaho Forward" which came offering public transit solutions. They stood in the way of the Farm, Ranch, and Forest Preservation working group which came ready to save Idaho lands from development. They set aside the principles developed by the legislative interim committee on tax exemptions.
- They chose this year to fly on a private airplane to a fund raising dinner, fly back to Boise, and the next day vote to pass a bill that is bad for working people but favorable to the owner of the airplane.
- This year again they catered to special interests at the expense of ordinary Idahoans, nearly shifting over $100 million dollars in big industry taxes onto the sales tax which families pay.
- They have opposed reforms that would clean up politics at the state level including ethics legislation that would end lobbyists' revolving door to politics.
As the majority party since 1990, Republicans chair every legislative committee in both houses. This year when we challenged Republican leadership to hold hearings and discuss issues; when we called for real cooperation and consideration of sound solutions, they refused.
- We worked to start removal of the sales tax on food at the register; Republican leaders opposed it.
- We crafted legislation to limit how much health insurance companies could raise premiums on Idaho families and small businesses; Republicans refused to hear the bill.
- We supported conservation easements to protect Idaho's vanishing working farms and forests; Republicans killed that bill too.
- We supported systematically reviewing special interest tax exemptions; Republicans would not consider it.
- We supported affordable housing legislation; Republicans would not consider it.
- We proposed residential sales price disclosure to put more accountability into how we set property taxes; House Republicans would not hold a hearing.
- We wanted to provide Idaho's teachers with the needed level of pay increases; The Governor's plan for education penalized Idaho's teachers and included disastrous proposals like Tom Luna's iSTARS.
- We supported creating treatment focused alternatives to mandatory minimum sentences to make communities safer and prisons less costly and crowded; Republican committee chairs would not give this bill a hearing.
- We supported adequate and reasonable state employee pay increases; Republicans ignored the needs of state employees and their families and took a hatchet to retirement benefits.
- We supported protecting children in child care by requiring criminal background checks on child care providers; Republicans refused to hold a hearing on this bill.
- We supported early childhood education programs to improve quality of life and success for Idaho's kids; Republicans opposed this effort to strengthen families and improve education.
- We supported measures to expand children's health insurance; Republicans opposed providing 6000 children in need with essential medical care.
- We led bipartisan efforts for human rights, successfully introducing fair employment policies for gays and lesbians and strategies for divesting state funds from companies supporting genocide in Darfur; Key Republican leaders blocked consideration of these measures in Senate.
- We supported building energy efficient schools and public buildings to save money, energy and prevent climate change. We encouraged the use of global climate change studies to protect Idahoans health and our precious resources. Senate Republican Leadership killed or watered down these measures one after another.
- We supported open, deliberative and inclusive politics and decision making; Republicans at the end of the session proposed a 93 page bill on election consolidation and another on closing Idaho primaries without including input from voters or dialog with the county clerks.
- We supported local option sales taxes to allow local people to vote to fund urgent local needs including public transit and roads; Republicans derailed the process and stood in the way with a restrictive and unnecessary constitutional amendment.
- We proposed providing a $50,000 exemption to the personal property tax to help small business; until their special interest version of the bill nearly died, House Republican Leaders would not consider our proposal.
- We supported lowering property taxes by making growth pay for itself and by allowing local governments to more easily charge impact fees on new development; Republicans would not even consider the bill.
The bottom line is, Democrats worked hard this session to provide
solutions and make progress on issues of importance to ordinary
Idahoans. We continually seek to protect the interests of our citizens,
and have stood up to the special interests who seek to warp the state's
democratic processes. We are committed to standing up for Idaho's
middle class and small businesses, preserving Idahos quality of life
and access to public lands. We support transparency and ethics in
The Republican Majority has been an obstacle to progress on those same issues. They have pursued their own ideological goals and partnered with special interests to rob Idahoans of the kind of representation they deserve. Under current Republican leadership and with government so very unbalanced, the changes that Idahoans care about will never be accomplished.
However, we will not give up. We will not stop laboring to make sure your voice is heard.
With your help, we will continue to make progress issue by issue. And, with your help, we will make progress this year by electing more Democrats to the legislature. Our goal in 2008 is to bring democracy, balance and better policy to the Idaho Legislature by winning more seats in both the House and the Senate. No matter where in Idaho you live, you can help us. http://www.idaho-democrats.org/