Gov. Little’s reversal of the $99 million budget holdback for education was a step in the right direction but not nearly far enough. While I applaud his efforts to restore the education budget, let’s not make it something that it is not. It is not a commitment from Boise to prioritize education. It does not compensate for spending taxpayer money to halt the Reclaim Idaho Education ballot initiative, denying Idaho voters the opportunity to weigh in on an opportunity to stabilize funding for education. It certainly does not alter Idaho’s ranking at dead last in the country for per-pupil spending.
Make no mistake, the Idaho Legislature has shown time and time again that investing in Idaho’s children is not a priority. Priorities include a large rainy day fund, a budget surplus and tax incentives that benefit corporations at the expense of individuals. Education does not fall on that list. There is no better example of this than the blocking of the Education Ballot Initiative.
Where does the money come from for our large rainy day fund and much larger state revenues than anticipated, which just made the headlines? Our kids are footing the bill. We pay our taxes, and we expect the state to honor its constitutionally mandated duty to provide a quality public education. Instead, our Legislature saves that money holding out for a better investment. Legislators continue to shift the burden to the teachers, the parents and property taxpayers — all the while keeping their eyes open for something more “worthy” to spend our money on.
When I look at my children, I don’t see them as a bad investment. As a parent, I want to give my child a better future than I had with more opportunities and every advantage that I can muster. Sometimes I have to sacrifice short-term wants, but I know that in the long run when I give my children what they need now will pay huge dividends in the future. Why do we continue to allow our representatives to take our money without meeting their obligations to our children?
I had two students come to my office this morning as I write this. I look at them and see the toll that current events are taking on them. I cannot imagine telling either of them that they are not worth it. Can you look at any child and tell them, honestly, that you are holding out for something better?
Preparing our children for their future is the most important thing that we can do. Education plays a crucial role in that responsibility. We depend on our representatives to make good on their obligation to use our tax dollars for Idaho’s benefit. Don’t let them forget about each and every child in this state. Remind them that every Idaho child is guaranteed a quality public education. Show them that it is not okay to sacrifice our children by voting for candidates in this election who place our children — Idaho’s future— first.
David Roth is a candidate for the Idaho Legislature, House District 33 and is the Precinct 10 captain.