Spend, Spend, Spend.
We all know that the United States Congress, which has the power of the federal purse, is totally out of control with their spending. It seems like we just passed $30 trillion in US National debt, yet I just checked the US national debt clock, and by the time you read this article, it may be at $34 trillion or much more.
It is mind-blowing.
With out-of-control spending, the Congress has enslaved future generations of Americans and our children and children’s children
But what about the State of Idaho and your state senator or representative? How does state spending happen, and do we have the same problems?
The short answer is that because the state of Idaho cannot manufacture money, we have to live within our means. We can only spend what is in the state’s bank accounts. But, does that mean that your state representative and senator in Boise spends your money responsibly?
Let’s examine how the business of state spending really works.
What Idaho calls “revenues” is really your taxes.
Even in Idaho we spend billions of dollars. Since I have been paying attention to the state budgets just 6 years ago, we have doubled state spending to $14 billion a year.
And you are paying for it weekly. Did you just fill up your gas tank? You just paid Idaho 32 cents per gallon in gas tax, the 17th highest in the nation. You just went grocery shopping? You just paid Idaho $6 of sales tax on the $100 of groceries and toilet paper.
Who spends all of the money the state extracts from you?
I do. The Idaho state legislature does. In fact, the Idaho legislature has 100% of the responsibility and authority to spend the state’s tax revenues. The governor gets nothing unless the legislature gives it to him. The courts will close unless the legislature authorizes their budgets. Fish and Game? They get to spend nothing unless the legislature says yes.
Even when we get money from the Feds, it is counted as revenue, and the Idaho state legislature must first authorize the spending of federal money in the state.
I am on the committee where that spending process begins every year. When the news writes about the committee, they refer to it as the “powerful budget setting committee”. It is actually the Joint Finance and Appropriations Committee (JFAC). JFAC has 10 representatives and 10 senators and is where all of the state spending starts.
Here is how the system works.
All of the agencies of the state government, all 180 boards, departments and commissions, spend weeks every January and February coming to the 20 members of JFAC in Boise with their hands out and with a compelling story. They come with a plan, and their goal is to get JFAC to agree to their spending plan. JFAC then writes a budget bill for that agency and sends it to the House and the Senate for approval.
Then, the governor must sign the bill. We do this every year creating the entire state budget through about 110 to 150 spending bills. That’s right, to spend the entire $14 billion of your money, we cut it into at least 110 pieces and then vote on every single one.
Now you are probably hoping there is a lot of careful thinking that goes into this process, and your “conservative”, fiscally responsible legislator is exercising a lot of critical judgment and is combing these agency budgets with a fine toothed comb looking for waste and excess, right?
I mean, your representative and your senator is representing YOU. It was ultimately your money. and we don’t want to grow government too much, right?
If government is too big, that means you are probably going to notice its intrusion into a lot of your life. In fact, if we set great budgets and keep government responsible, maybe we can even cut your taxes! Maybe instead of paying $6 in sales taxes on that last bag of groceries from Yokes or Super 1, we could cut the sales tax to just 5%. You would keep more of your money, right?
Well, I have some bad news.
Checks and Balances. And Federal Debt.
Remember the way our system works is that each branch of government is supposed to act as a check on the other branches of government. And the state is supposed to act as a check to federal irresponsibility.
Out of 110 budget bills, some of them are probably still bad when they get to the senate or the house floors, and they should be voted down and sent back to JFAC for some more work.
At least consider that over 40% of Idaho’s total spending is directly subsidized by the federal government. That is almost $6 billion. For every federal dollar spent, 28 cents is financed by adding to the federal debt. Since every federal dollar spent in Idaho must be authorized by the Idaho legislature, the Idaho legislature is responsible for authorizing the addition of $1.68 billion to the federal debt every year.
Even the most liberal spender of your money probably would say no to at least one of the 110 budget bills, right? These budgets contain billions of dollars of spending. Many of the state budgets are growing faster than inflation and the growth rate of the state. Many of the budgets contain massive amounts of federal debt supplied funding. Certainly, every legislator ought to find at least one budget bill that they don’t like, and they should maybe vote NO on at least one of these bills? Remember, voting no at least once means you are still saying yes to 99.5% of the budgets that come across your desk.
Saying NO just sends it back to committee with the request that we get this budget a little tighter or get a better explanation for a line item. It doesn’t actually kill an agency, close a school or shut down a highway project. And yet for the past two years NOT A SINGLE BUDGET BILL, out of 250 different bills, has been killed on the senate floor and returned to committee.
Not a single one.
In fact, many legislators in the senate in particular, vote YES on every. Single. Budget. Bill. In 2022, 9 senators voted yes for every budget.
9 senators never ONCE voted NO.
The guy I replaced in the senate, Jim Woodward, voted yes on every single one of the 110 budget bills in 2022. Even though many of those bills contained hundreds of millions in federal Covid money, federal debt spending, and the growth of some of those budgets exceeded the rate of inflation and the rate of the growth of Idaho’s population.
Click here to see a listing of every single budget bill from 2022 and what the vote counts were. Notice that at least in the House of Representatives there was some real opposition. The House even killed some budgets, which caused them to go back to committee and get tightened up with more responsible spending.
This is what we the people want!
In contrast to Woodward, just on the public schools’ bills in the 2023 session, I voted in favor of some of the budgets and voted against some of the budgets.
For example, I voted for Senate Bill 1205, the public schools’ Teacher’s Division budget that included significant public school teacher pay raises. But, I voted against Senate Bill 1206, the public school Operations budget. While I supported the $97 million pay raise for bus drivers and other classified staff in that budget, I opposed the line item of $48 million for so-called “discretionary spending”.
By voting No, I was sending a message to the state superintendent of public instruction that I was not a random yes man. Superintendent Critchfield knew that my opinion was that the discretionary spending number seemed somewhat random, and my No vote was my message to her to provide a more detailed plan for why the number was in the budget to begin with. In fact, I stated this in JFAC, and I debated the same point on the senate floor.
This is how we get better and more responsible government. Here is my debate against Senate Bill 1206 and my encouragement to the State Superintendent of Public Instruction:
One more terrible thing.
There are special interest groups that will spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in the next 6 months against we conservative senators who sometimes say NO. These Center Left special interest PACs want legislators who will say yes to everything they want.
Remember who is trying to wield all of the power in the Boise Swamp. The corporations and special interest groups want to use government to enrich themselves, and they will lie and attempt to deceive voters to get the “Yes” men and women that they want in the legislature.
Here is one example: A new political action committee was just formed right before the last primary election in April 2022. They use the name Idaho Liberty PAC.
They have so far raised $584,000 and spent $532k of it against our most conservative and fiscally responsible legislators. Their donations come entirely from center Left, wealthy individuals, corporations and other political action committees. These are not people like you and me.
Just 12 days ago Idaho “Liberty” PAC spent $47,500 to send a mailer against three of Idaho’s most conservative senators, Chris Trakel, Brian Lenney, and Tammy Nichols. In the mailer, this Center Left Idaho Liberty PAC straight up twists the record.
Here is the mailer:
“Defund our police”?
They state that Chris Trakel wants to “defund the police” because he voted against senate bill 1211.
Senate Bill 1211 was what is known as a Cash Transfer bill and did 6 things. Here are the things it did that Senator Trakel approved of:
1) It transferred $68.7 million to cover the summer of 2022’s wildfire suppression in Idaho.
2) It transferred $550 thousand dollars to the Peace Officer Training Fund.
It transferred in total $130.9 million from the general fund, which is your personal income taxes and your sales taxes, to other funds so that the money could be used.
What both Senator Trakel and I opposed in the bill was that it also transferred $15 million of your money to the Workforce Development Council in the Office of the Governor so that your money could be used to train semiconductor workers that are going to work for Micron Technologies.
Micron is a major corporation and employer in Idaho. In fact, Micron has donated $161,600 in the last two years to impact elections in Idaho. On May 11 of this year they donated $10,000 to the Friends of Brad Little PAC. They also donated $17,000 on March 15 to the Idaho Prosperity Fund, which is the PAC for the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry (IACI).
IACI just endorsed 34 Center Left candidates for the May 2024 Republican primary election, including my challenger. Clearwater Paper just donated $99,000 in October to their favorite legislative candidates, political action committees and others. Why?
Because the corporations want “Yes” men and women in the legislature that approve budgets and policies that financially benefit the corporations.
They want to use the sword of the state, the power to tax you, to line their own profits and pockets.
Even though they can afford what they want to do on their own.
This is politics folks. The down and dirty of it.
I will stand for you every step of the way.
Other Idaho Freedom Caucus members are also standing for you.
The corporations are not going to donate to us, so we will need help from you to counter the Center Left messaging that is against us.
Please chip in what you can. The May 2024 Republican primary election is just 6 months away.We need money to reach the voters.
Also share this newsletter with a friend. Help spread the truth about how our government works.
Contact me with any questions.
PS – It has come to my attention that Senate Pro Tem Chuck Winder wrote a letter that inaccurately criticized my work on JFAC. In particular, he stated that he “was surprised to hear that you had only worked on one small budget”. I am amazed that Senator Winder would commit such a factual error in his defamatory letter. A quick review of the Senate Journal for the 2023 session reveals that I sponsored the following five budgets on the senate floor:
1. S1115 – State Appellate Public Defender
2. S1131 – Supplemental appropriation for Attorney General
3. S1139 – Executive Office of the Governor
4. S1164 – Department of Labor
5. H306 – Public Defense Commission
Doing the work of JFAC means attending, questioning, debating, offering substitute budget motions, adding language to budget bills, voting against budgets and supporting and carrying on the senate floor some budgets. All of which I proudly did in 2023.