As a private citizen, I was always offended when I heard about tax dollars going to lobbyists.
You may not be familiar with this practice, but any public institution can use your taxes to hire private lobbyists to lobby any other institution, usually for more taxes to be collected and spent. Cities can lobby the State, the State can lobby the feds, and the feds can lobby the cities. It becomes one endless cycle of forcing citizens to pay to subsidize their own tax increases.
Imagine my surprise then to find out that Ada County had its own contract lobbyist on the payroll. It was a relatively new phenomena, started in 2018 when the Board was under Democrat control. Ada County had been paying a whopping $80,000 per year for this service. On Tuesday, November 28th, this contract will be up for renewal in front of the Board of Commissioners. I believe it’s time to put an end to this extravagance.
Out of all 44 counties in Idaho, Ada is truly the last one who should be using tax dollars for private lobbyists.
Our courthouse office is mere blocks from the Capitol, a short ten-minute walk. All three Commissioners (two of whom are former legislators themselves) already have extensive contacts in the Capitol based on our years in politics. We can easily represent ourselves.
The median income in Idaho for an individual is about $32,000. Lobbyists are earning $80,000 per year – per client – and most professionals have many clients. The legislative session is only 3 months, and work for a client may amount to only a few hours a year, depending on the issue. While large corporations can handle this, Governments should not be justifying this kind of expense.
Ada County is already represented by the Idaho Association of Counties, who sends representatives to the Capital each year to talk about county issues. Five legislative priorities are chosen per year to focus on. Ada County’s proposal – reforming the law relating to hospital property tax exemptions – was selected as one of the Association’s five priorities, meaning, we will already have a lobbying presence there. This is still taxpayer-funded lobbying, and I am concerned with it, but at least the Association represents all counties equally and only on issues of broad support. As an individual Commissioner I don’t have any control over them since they are supported by all 44 counties, but I do have control over what matters are placed in front of me to vote on. From a pragmatic perspective, Ada County’s private lobbyist is unnecessary.
It’s time to put an end to this program. If we don’t do it now, it will never go away.
“The closest thing to eternal life on Earth is a government program.” -Ronald Reagan.Advertisement
If you feel the way I do, you can contact the Commissioners at BOCC1@adacounty.id.gov before Tuesday to weigh in with your opinion.
Ryan Davidson, Ada County Commissioner
This Op-Ed was submitted by Ada County Commissioner Ryan Davidson. Op-Eds do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of those at the Idaho Dispatch.
Tags: Ada County, Ada County Board of Commissioners, City, County, Federal Government, Idaho Association of Counties, Idaho Counties, Idaho Taxpayers, Lobbying, Private Lobbyist, State, taxes