February 8, 2023

Launch Idaho Should Sink

By: Former Representative Karey Hanks

The Idaho Launch bill (H24) passed the House on Monday, February 6th.  Two hours of debate concluded with the narrow passage of this bill (36-34), and another defeat for Constitutional principle and the Idaho taxpayer.  The biggest take-away will be the establishment of yet another new government program that will continue to increase in cost, as virtually all government programs do.  This is Governor Little’s bill, which will benefit his corporate cronies (Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry, or IACI) by reducing training costs for Idaho Big Business–costs which businesses and corporations should be paying, NOT the Idaho taxpayer.  Many of our southeast Idaho representatives voted for this fiasco, including Dustin Manwaring, Rod Furniss, Josh Wheeler and Britt Raybould.

But how will it benefit our graduating students?  Those choosing to attend out-of-state college or other training are not allowed to apply.  Students who apply and receive this $8,500 will have strings attached (as they should), including payback for non-completion, and limitations to enrollment for “in-demand” career paths, as determined by the Workforce Development Council.  Essential vs. non-essential?  Choosing winners and losers?  Unfortunately, yes.

And, there is no guarantee these students, once graduated, will stay in Idaho.

What happened to working for what you get?  Many of us were incensed that President Biden pushed for student loan forgiveness.  How is this different?  If this bill becomes law, what’s next?  Remember the Medicaid Expansion program?  It has already ballooned from the original $400 million to over $1 BILLION in just a few short years.  (Again, most of the southeast legislators voted FOR Medicaid Expansion)

How many of us worked our way through college or other training, maybe even had to pause and work to earn enough to get through the next semester?  This is our hard-earned tax money, which should be returned to the Idaho taxpayers, not appropriated into a well-intentioned but wholly unconstitutional program.

This is another redistribution of Idaho taxpayer monies.  While the legislature is Constitutionally obligated to fund K-12, after-high school choices should be the responsibility of the individual.  The Education Saving Account proposals, which enable parents to choose what is best for their children, would be much more beneficial in promoting students’ desire to “go on” after high school.

One more point: a majority of the long-serving legislators opposed Idaho Launch because they know once a government program is initiated, it  never ends.  Our legislature is the only shield against government overreach.  This is NOT the proper role of government.

Justice Clarence Thomas has said, “The hard case is where your heart really wants to do something for somebody and the law says you have no authority.  That’s when you see whether or not you are a judge or you’re lawless.”  This applies very well to those individuals serving as legislators.  Do they have the righteous authority to obligate Idaho taxpayers to pay for high school graduates’ additional schooling?  As one representative testified, “We have no business starting this program.”

Contact your representatives and communicate according to their vote.

And let your senator know this pricey boondoggle must NOT pass the Senate!

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