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Op-Ed: Dems Say ‘Social Warfare’ Doesn’t Help Idaho

By • March 16, 2023

The apocalypse may not be upon us, but maybe you should take a peek outside to make sure. We’re seeing the two top Democrats in the Legislature embracing Republican Gov. Brad Little’s budget priorities – something that’s unheard of in today’s politics. Senate Minority Leader Melissa Wintrow of Boise said in a recent news conference, called by Democrats, that the governor has “really provided a great road map for the state with his budget.” House Minority Leader Ilanna Rubel of Boise went a few steps further in a conversation with me.

“The governor’s agenda isn’t exactly what we would have done, but it’s pretty good. It pays teachers … helps kids go to school and train for better jobs and fixes our roads and bridges. We’re all for it,” Rubel said. “If we came in a day after his state-of-the-state address, passed his budget and adjourned for the year, it would be the best session in modern history.”

Instead, Rubel says, we could be looking at one of the worst sessions ever – with no guarantees of the Republican majority agreeing on any of the governor’s priorities. Frustration from the Dems have reached the boiling point. The minority leaders have lashed out at Republicans for focusing on “right-wing talking points,” instead of working in Idaho’s best interest.

“We have real needs that need to be addressed – underfunded schools, underpaid teachers, an infrastructure that has to be fixed and property tax problems. These are bread-and-butter issues for Idahoans, but you would never know it by how it’s playing out,” Rubel says. “It’s pretty much non-stop with hot-button social warfare. It’s all about transgender care, drag shows, going after librarians and book banning.”

A few other things can be added to the list, including abortion trafficking, allowing death by firing squads, essentially killing voter initiatives and voter suppression. And let’s not forget about school vouchers and lifting the militia ban.

“We’re spending an overwhelming amount of time, and sucking up the oxygen in the room on things that will not lower taxes, not help kids get a better education, not help with property taxes, not pay teachers, not fix school buildings and not fix roads,” she said. “As Democrats, we don’t chair committees or control the agenda. If we did, we’d be talking about property taxes and school funding all day long. It would be boring, but that’s what we came here to talk about.”

As Rubel sees it, this session is wall-to-wall social engineering, which was once viewed as taboo by Republicans who preached about getting government out of people’s lives.

“I could characterize Brad Little at this point as an old-school Republican – more like how Republicans looked 30 years ago when it wasn’t all about constant social control, telling people what books their kids are allowed to read, what health care you should be allowed to get, and social engineering every minute of people’s lives. If it was just about fiscal conservatism, I won’t mind getting back to that,” she said.

“It’s really telling when you see a bill that has been introduced in about 10 states at the same time, and we hear it in Idaho two days after it has been signed in Tennessee and a day before it was introduced in Oklahoma,” she said. “I think that’s a sign that it’s a bill that is not tailored to the needs of Idahoans. They are coming from a smoke-filled room somewhere.”

Given the low number of minority members in the Legislature, it’s easy to ignore – or dismiss – anything that Democrats might say or think. Republican leaders say there is no reason to panic. Priorities will be addressed, budgets will be set and everyone will go home with smiles on their faces.

But Rubel and Wintrow won’t be smiling if the Legislature – as it often does — waits until the end to address the issues that are most important to Idahoans.

Chuck Malloy is a long-time Idaho journalist and columnist. He may be reached at ctmalloy@outlook.com

This Op-Ed was submitted by Chuck Malloy. Op-Eds do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of those at the Idaho Dispatch.

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Tags: Brad Little, Budget, Democrats, Idaho GOP, Ilana Rubel, Melissa Wintrow, Republicans, School Funding, Social Engineering, Social Warfare, taxes

14 thoughts on “Op-Ed: Dems Say ‘Social Warfare’ Doesn’t Help Idaho

    1. Absolutely! If a dem approves little’s budget priorities, that’s our sign we have a democrat governor.

  1. Rubel says Dems want property tax reduction, but the democrats voted against the property tax reduction in H292, including her. That’s a bit hypocritical. Wouldn’t you agree?

  2. Nationally embarrassing session. Getting governance directly into the private lives of the people while forgetting about the needs of the state and its citizens for economic development. Small wonder Idaho produces so little of the national GDP and our rural areas are economically suffering.

  3. How did Little get elected? Are the masses that asleep at the wheel that they didn’t know what they were getting, or do we also suffer rigged elections?

  4. Here is a Billion dollar question.
    What have they done with all the extra tax collected. Think about the influx of people moving to all of Idaho, new housing construction is paid by the developer not the city, plus all the add on they impose to get a permit. If you wish to make property improvements you will need to spend thousand to satisfy what the government has already been paid to do for years to get a permit. Now you already have millions more then ever and not even discussed the increase in valuation of property which leads to increased tax income for them.
    Here is one that is not even remotely finically responsible. The government retirement account. 20 years of service = lifetime of pay, this translates to tax payers paying for 2.5 people for every 1 government employee, with a retirement of 60% to 100% value at retirement. Or what about this one, I seen 6 city employees, 4 city vehicles, 2 county employees, 1 county vehicle to install a stop sign for a county intersection the other day. I bet everyone of you has your own great story of these things as well.

    1. Yep… been wondering the same thing. We’ve seen property values more than double in the north over the span of just the last few years. And while those values have ballooned, so has the volume of homes. So significantly more people paying double in property taxes what were paid just a few years ago… this state, from the local level all the way up to state, should be FLUSH with cash and returning money to the citizens in the form of:

      – elimination of tax on food
      – property tax cuts or at the very least property tax caps ensuring that no one can be taxed out of their homes
      – reduction of income taxes, or a flat out elimination of income tax as other red states have pulled off for decades.

      So yes… the big question is… where have all those dollars gone?

  5. There are some good points in this story, however, Ms. Rubel touts “underfunded schools” as one of her talking points, along with underpaid teachers. She is half-right: teachers often are underpaid, especially newer or beginning teachers. But schools are not underfunded. Schools have plenty of money, they just waste it. Get rid of the top-heavy administrations and the ridiculous social engineering curricula and get that money to actually reach the classrooms. Also, her “banning books” accusation is patently false: no one is banning books outright, there are those of us who think that books should be age-appropriate and subject appropriate to the intended audience. Finally, Brad Little has the admiration of many of the Democrats in our state because he is more one of them than a true conservative. Jus looking at his political record bears that out.

  6. Killing by firing squads? what?

    Telling children what books they can read. Darn right. It’s called parental oversight. For the same reasons they can’t buy porn from local bookstores or markets. This isn’t about 1st amendment suppression as the Dems like to pretend. This is about closing the loopholes that public/govt schools and public libraries seem to enjoy to not enforce Idaho obscenity laws that are already on the books. What Dems don’t want to say out loud is that they really don’t want public libraries and schools to be held accountable to Idaho obscenity laws. Furthermore, this Dem does not understand that the “talking points” from the right are a reaction to the extreme leftist policies being implemented public/govt schools and healthcare. They have earned the reaction they are getting.

    If proficiency rates are so low in govt/public schools why do they spend so much time talking about social justice and gender issues? Why not just focus on the main points – language arts proficiency and reading, math, history and science?

  7. Too little money for education? What? It’s fully 1/3 of the State budget and what do we get for it? Parents continually having to go to board meetings to decry the curriculum. Parents being shut out from critical decisions? Actual learning effectiveness decreasing! Salaries for administrators continuing to go up while the rank and file stagnate. Salaries not dependent on performance, but on education of the “educator.”

    Give me a break. We don’t need “more money” in the education system. What we need are better curriculum which focuses on real history (did you know that no one teaches the Declaration of Independence or Constitution except in passing in High School?), real math – not that ridiculous nonsense called Kommon Kore, and real science – XX = woman, XY = man.

  8. The Dems are agreeing with the little governor? Little is the poster child for the democratic/corporatist unitary. Of course they like him and played a part in his reelection…

  9. Democrat capacity for twisting the truth is absolutely staggering. “Republicans are all about social engineering”? Priceless. No… telling teachers they can’t provide porn to elementary school children isn’t social engineering. Attempting to sexualize children is social engineering. We’re trying to stop it. Lying to children and pitting groups against each other with CRT is social engineering. We’re trying to stop it. At every turn, Democrats have been “social engineering” our children into the abyss for years. And when Republicans and Independents stand up to stop it, they call it “social engineering”. No… interrupting your mental abuse of our kids isn’t social engineering… it’s called parental control and values.

    As far as their other “priorities”? If fixing property taxes was a priority, why’d Rubel vote against it? If spending more money on education is the key to properly educating our kids, why are Idaho’s scores higher, by far, than those in California who spends over double the amount per student? Firing Squads? Seriously? Why do you have your panties in a twist about the WAY a murderer meets his end? If only Democrats were so concerned about the victims. Abortion trafficking? To be clear… when the state opposes abortion, and others illegally traffic to other states to break the law, that’s not an Idaho problem. Any more so than a scumbag from Idaho going into Oregon to do drugs where it’s legal is an Idaho problem. Simply becoming the shit-hole isn’t a solution. School vouchers? Why in the world do you oppose allowing parents to spend THEIR tax money on the school of THEIR choice bringing competition to the school system? Other than teachers’ unions and indoctrination camps, what does that policy threaten?

    Gotta love ’em. “If it were up to us we’d be talking about property taxes and funding our schools all the time”… Now that’s funny. So the people that want to perpetually increase spending on EVERYTHING, are trying to pitch that they’re for cutting taxes. Priceless. I guess that’s why when the actual vote comes up to lower taxes, they voted against it. If their lips are moving… they’re lying. It’s amazing more people can’t see that.

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