As we approach our fourth week, the legislature still isn’t addressing the big issue facing Idaho: economic stagnation.   One of the best moves we can make to address stagnation is to create an educated workforce, which means giving our children the skill and guidance of competent professionals, reasonable class sizes, and local control.   An educated, qualified workforce gives employers a good reason to locate here and their presence gives our kids a good reason to stay here.

The Education Task Force was created to recommend the best solutions for education.  This group of 32 diverse representatives included teachers, school board members, education leaders, public officials and parents. Together they approved 20 recommendations to improve public education, including local control, restoring lost funding to keep class size manageable, and developing career incentives for educators.  I am supporting these compromises.  The money is there to do it, but unfortunately $70 million is to be set aside in a rainy day fund and $30 million has been designated for a “tax relief”.

The problem with “tax relief” is that dozens of tax cuts haven’t created jobs for our economy.   There are no guarantees that millions in corporate tax relief will create Idaho jobs.  A corporation can easily use the money for an overseas investment.

In the 1990’s, Idaho invested in education. This provided the skilled workforce that included 10,000 employees at Micron.  Today there are 5000 – 6000.    There were many other smaller tech companies in Boise, and Hewlett Packard employed more people. In the late 1990’s we talked about small class size, parental involvement and quality professional teachers and the Legislature prioritized this in their budgets to support this.  We had a prosperous and robust economy.

No one claims there will be a robust economy in 6 months if we invest in education today.  But the Task Force recommendations give us a map toward prosperity in our State.

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