January 10, 2021
Advancement of Freedom is the No. 1 Goal for the 2021 Legislative Session
By: Idaho Freedom Foundation President Wayne Hoffman
My friends, our country is in trouble and if Gov. Brad Little is honest about the real state of our state, he’ll acknowledge as much as he opens the 2021 legislative session. Doing so will allow Idaho lawmakers to confront and lead on the obstacles that stand in the way of the United States continuing to be the world’s beacon of opportunity and freedom.
Let’s start with the governor’s (and many legislators’) No. 1 concern for every legislative session since 1890: Education. Americans have failed to teach our history and values to our own children. Some would argue, as I do, that this is by design. You wouldn’t expect a government-run K-12 or higher education system to reinforce the ideas associated with a limited government.
Accordingly, most young people don’t understand or appreciate the nature of unalienable rights, a constitutionally-limited government, free society, the importance of private property, the right of self defense, or the freedom of assembly and worship. If freedom is hardly taught, it is easily surrendered, and it was in 2020.
We can do nothing and hope that future generations of Americans will be passionate defenders of liberty or we can attack the problem at its source. Idaho is one of the few states in the country where this work can get done.
Little — and lawmakers — need to commit to fixing our K-12 education system. The discussion shouldn’t be simply about adding more money to preserve mediocrity. The conversation should be about implementing policies that free young people from the government schools that fail them and fail our country. Instead of protecting a failed system from an outflow of students, it’s time for legislation to allow students and taxpayer dollars to go where their educational goals are best met.
Lawmakers also need to honor the commitment made last year to repeal the disastrous Common Core education standards, an experiment that has produced poor results since 2010.
Further, labor union bosses have more control over our schools than our elected school boards. Our public schools are little more than a rallying point, indoctrination factory, and revenue generator for groups like the National Education Association. Lawmakers must restore the balance of power in school districts so that special interest groups aren’t allowed to shape minds and call shots at the expense of our children.
Next, state officials need to set about getting control of our public higher education system. In particular, Boise State University and the University of Idaho have become the headquarters of the leftist movement in the state. Both schools use public money to advance an anti-American agenda better suited to Portland and Seattle. BSU and Idaho State University are both home to the socialists’ radio mouthpiece, National Public Radio. Racism and radicalism are so baked into the system of the two schools that it is nearly impossible for most students to earn a degree without exposure to socialist indoctrination. Failing to address this matter head on will result in Idaho becoming another haven for the Left.
State lawmakers must repeal those laws that were brazenly used to shut down businesses, quarantine healthy people in their homes, and threaten Idahoans with fines and jail time just for behaving as free people do. The Legislature cannot allow Idaho government officials to treat people as mere subjects.
Finally, our state government taxes people on the food they eat, the income they earn, and the property they own. These taxes are contrary to the principles of freedom. If ever there was a year to cut taxes, this is it.
Three years ago, Brad Little said removing the grocery tax for all Idahoans is the right thing to do. If Little doesn’t aggressively push for a repeal of the tax on groceries in this legislative session, it means he never really meant it. I hope that’s not the case. I hope Gov. Little makes grocery tax repeal a priority for this session as the state’s tax collections have been more than robust enough to pay for it as well as a healthy reduction in the state’s income tax. Removing the sales tax on groceries, lowering the income tax, and cutting property taxes should be front and center in the 2021 legislative session.
This session will be my 27th regular Idaho legislative session, and I can safely say that the tasks at hand have never been more daunting or more important. The overarching goal should be the advancement of freedom and a successful session to that end could well make the difference, not only for Idaho, but for an entire nation.