Opinion: What are our leaders trying to sell?

There has been much talk and fanfare the past year about the record budget surplus for the state of Idaho. Unfortunately, as I’ve pointed out in the past, our record “surplus” is nothing more than an indication of the fact that our Legislature continues to underfund our infrastructure and ignore its constitutional duty to properly fund education.

If you need proof, just look at state records regarding educational supplemental levies. These are the expenses that the state refuses to pay to preserve its record surplus. Instead, these necessary educational costs are passed on to local property owners. Our elected leaders ask us to foot the bill while they crow about a “surplus.”

This year marks the sixth year in a row of record-breaking supplemental levies for Idaho schools. It’s truly sad. Idaho Education News reports that we’ve spent more than $218 million dollars in supplemental funds — and our schools still can’t pay competitive salaries to hire the staff our children desperately need.

I wonder: What is the point of a huge budget “surplus” if it is built on the backs of our children? People complain about the debt that we are leaving for our children. But do they consider the burden our children will face as the product of an underfunded system leaving them ill-prepared for the future?

David Roth is a nonprofit executive director and the chair of the Bonneville County Democratic Central Committee.