Keep an eye on representatives during legislative session

As we approach the end of the year, it’s common to take a step back and evaluate our lives and our priorities. With our legislative session just around the corner, it’s also a good time to think about what we’d like our “representatives” to address.

Are they going to pay attention to issues that matter to us? Or will they continue their current campaign of disinformation?

Most of us know what Idahoans value. We want to see education adequately funded. We’d like to maintain the infrastructure in the state. Many of us recognize that a broadband program that brings business and educational opportunities to various parts of the state is essential. It’s also vital that we consider issues related to the outdoors. The issue of salmon is becoming pressing. And, of course, last year we the people spoke in favor of Medicaid expansion, and we expect our legislators to act in good faith to implement it in an efficient manner.

Unfortunately, it’s fairly obvious that many of our legislators aren’t interested in truly representing us. Instead, they’ve been spreading misinformation about Medicaid expansion and creating problems designed to act as red herrings to distract us.

After giving a tax break that disproportionately benefits the top earners, our “leaders” are wringing their hands about lower revenues and talking about cutting the things that improve Idahoans’ lives. Rather than reviewing sales tax exemptions — which amount to billions of dollars — they float absurdities like telling constituents that they should raise property taxes because of Medicaid expansion.

They pretend that, instead of looking for solutions like creating broader tax brackets that would help working families and getting rid of costly sales tax exemptions, they have to create a false choice between infrastructure and education. Our “leaders” have created problems and they claim that the voters are all at fault.

After setting up false dichotomies and ignoring solutions that have been presented to them, they decide to focus their efforts on fighting the citizens and choosing their voters through gerrymandering efforts. When you look at the priorities that some of our legislators are pushing for the upcoming session, it’s difficult to believe that they actually share the values of those they claim to represent.

Citizens consistently express interest in education, affordable healthcare, infrastructure and conservation. Our so-called leaders keep talking about tax cuts designed to help their cronies and devise additional burdens associated with Medicaid expansion, all while planning to limit our ability to voice our desires through the initiative.

As we move into the coming legislative session, it’s up to us to make our voices heard and remain active in the process. Our legislators have shown their contempt for we the people, but we can’t let that keep us from our oversight role. We must hold them accountable.