Opinion: Let’s not be short-sighted on education

There is no better investment for the future of Idaho than an investment in our children. Our state may have some of the lowest taxes in our country, but let’s not forget that those lower taxes come at a substantial cost. That cost is paid by our children.

The fact is that our education funding model in Idaho is broken. We are dead last in the country in per-pupil spending. Our Legislature has made the majority of our school districts dependent on supplemental levies in order to meet minimum operating expenses. These represent budget short-falls in the millions of dollars. Then, to add insult to injury, the schools have to ask you to make up their budget shortfall since the state has skipped out on its responsibility and left us to pick up the tab.

Don’t get me wrong. It is absolutely critical that we pass the District 93 levies coming up next month. This is not the needed expansion that our students deserved, this is essentially just allowing the schools to continue to operate. We as parents have a responsibility to our kids. We must keep supporting our kids even when our representatives fail us. We know that an education now will provide a solid and secure future for our children.

Without this funding, our District 93 schools will not be able to maintain current staffing next year. Things will have to be cut. Those cuts are going to directly affect you and your family. Your child will miss out. It is really that simple.

During a recent conversation with a state senator, he commented that education levies were one of the only times that the people get to directly weigh on a tax proposal. Often times we feel so taxed already it might be tempting to say “no more.” The politicians planned it that way. They know that if given the choice, Idahoans care about the quality of the education provided to our students. They know that they can spend your money irresponsibly elsewhere because when push comes to shove, we will always be there for our children and support their needs.

I wonder what would happen if other tax proposals had to be weighed in on directly by the voters. How many of you would have voted in favor of a tax cut that gives you very little, but hands the wealthiest in Idaho a large windfall? Would you give up that $100 in favor of multi-million dollar investments in your child?

There are two things that we need to do to give our children their best chance.

First, I urge you to vote in favor of the District 93 supplemental and plant levies. Second, please, in 2022 let’s start sending representatives to Boise who are going to put our interests first and finally fix the education funding model, which will reduce the need for levies and lower property taxes.

David Roth is vice chair of Legislative District 33 of the Bonneville County Democratic Central Committee.