Now that the legislative session is over, we can all breathe a sigh of relief. Our lives are still intact and we didn't lose too much of our liberty or property.
On the education front, the legislature continued its assault on public education and passed a series of fairly mean-spirited laws against teachers. That's the only way to describe them. Fairness wasn't a consideration. Consider, for example, the law that says a school board, at any time, can break off (or even refuse) contract negotiations with teachers and just impose an agreement on them. How noble. How fair. We've enjoyed a lot of labor peace over the last 25 years, but this legislature worked hard to create conditions guaranteed to end that peace in the future. They just don't like teachers. Maybe because some of those teachers flunked them in American government.
The bulk of the bills the voters rejected last fall passed in new, disguised forms (some barely disguised), demonstrating how much the legislature really cares what the voters think.
They also decided to pour even more tax dollars into charter schools, which are discovering you can't continue trying to do better than public schools, even with all the extra advantages they're given, without needing far more money per student than the public schools. The money the state is pouring into these semi-private schools would be better spent on the public schools, but then, the legislature hasn't finished breaking the back of public schools.
They'll walk away from this session claiming they held the line on taxes and actually cut business taxes, while expanding local control. What they really did was cut funding resources for local governments, causing the local officials to exercise their "local control" by determining what additional essential services they'll be cutting, or forcing them to raise local taxes.
As an example, almost every school district in the state is now running on emergency levies to stay afloat, and since most cities and counties hit their levy maximums years ago any "non-critical" positions lost through attrition won't be replaced, including those in law enforcement. There'll be fewer roads paved and bridges fixed by local highway districts.
The legislators walk by with their heads too far above the muck they've created to notice what's happening to the peasants -- on whom they dumped all the problems they really didn't want to deal with themselves for fear it might sully their robes of invicibility. Over the last decade we've developed an imperial legislature.
Nothing is more dangerous than a legislature just after an election, because they know there are at least two years for the voters to forget what they've done before they face re-election again.
But for the voters, it may be a lost cause for a while. The opposition party is a joke and the primary elections are functionally rigged (for the one party that makes a difference in Idaho). We're going to get more of the same until conditions become totally intolerable and our local infrastructure is in shambles.
And when the sleeping voters awaken, their vengeance will be terrible. The voice of reason will some day be heard again in this land. Just not this year.
-- Kelly Everitt