This time of year, I like to focus on the things that we can be grateful for. I, for one, am grateful for my family and friends. This year Thanksgiving included a range of ages from my 10-year old son to my 104-year old grandma. Sometimes I forget how rare it is that I get to sit across the table from my grandmother into my 40s, how special it is that my children get to know their great-grandmother. Beyond rare and beyond exceptional, I can’t believe how lucky I am. I got to enjoy the warmth of my mother’s home, the excellent food and being surrounded by those I love. Many didn’t. Even in our community.
It amazes me that we can never seem to find the money to give Idahoans a better future, yet we can find the money for just about anything else. For example, our legislators found over $105,000 to gather in Boise and send a letter to President Biden. I suppose it is good to clear up any lingering doubt that the president may have had about how the Idaho Legislature feels about him. However, I have to ask if that was truly the best use of that money. Did it really benefit the people of Idaho?
What could we have done instead? According to the United States Department of Agriculture, we could provide a healthy day’s worth of food to a hungry person for $4.79. For that $105,000 of your money, essentially spent on a stamp to mail a single letter, we could have provided 21,920 days of food support for members of our communities. And if feeding people is not your thing, we could have trained 27 local students at the College of Eastern Idaho for one year to enter the workforce in our community, driving innovation and improving our economy. Perhaps if you do not see the value of college education, we could have paid for 195 months of child care expenses for those struggling to return to work but unable to find affordable child care. Or we could have funded two full-time teachers for our schools.
This example does not even take into consideration the hundreds of thousands of dollars our legislators spent trying to take away constitutionally guaranteed rights this past summer. What could we have done with that money? I guess we could have cashed it all out in dollar bills and burned it for a little heat for those struggling to heat their homes. Even that would have provided more benefit to the people of Idaho.
I expect our legislators to use the resources that we provide them for the highest and best use for the people of Idaho. These should include investments in education and job training, health care, early childhood education and affordable housing. It’s time to examine our values and elect legislators that are fiscally responsible and know how to achieve the biggest return on our tax dollars.
David Roth is a local nonprofit director and the chair of the Bonneville County Democratic Central Committee.