Democrats to Budget Committee: Meet the Needs of Today’s Students

Democrats to Budget Committee:
Meet the Needs of Today’s Students

BOISE – The state’s budget committee has recommended a K-12 budget that is inadequate to meet the needs of Idaho’s children. While the recommendation offers schools more resources—including much-needed investments in teachers’ pay—it’s short of what we need today to give students a competitive edge in a global economy.

The appropriation omits a program to make rural school districts more competitive, undercuts professional development for teachers, and shortchanges technology advances in the classroom. In fact, it falls below recommendations by both Superintendent Sherri Ybarra and Governor Otter.

Schools have endured years of fiscal instability. Now, 94 of 115 school districts fund some essential services through property-tax levies—which amounts to legislative tax hikes on regular Idahoans. Idaho Democratic Legislators do not support forcing Idahoans to pay higher property taxes. Accountable and efficient use of tax dollars is important, but sufficient resources are important, too.

“Public education is our most essential investment. Schools shouldn’t have to live ‘hand to mouth.’ It is no way to invest in our children,” said House Minority Leader, Rep. John Rusche. “Idaho Democrats will continue to work for accountable and appropriate K-12 funding.”

While this budget shows some progress, shortchanging schools fails to prepare Idaho’s children for a 21st-century economy. Until the committee and both chambers invest in a complete education plan that provides adequate funding to our schools, a full school week, and a safe learning environment, there’s unfinished business in the Statehouse.

Democratic legislators are committed to further strides for the success of our students and schools.

The Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Sen. Cherie Buckner-Webb

BoiseEach year, the nation pauses to honor the legacy and the deep societal impact of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He is remembered primarily for his work to ensure that all Americans had access to basic civil rights. As the first elected African-American state legislator in Idaho, I am especially thankful for Dr. King’s work. I also want to lift up Dr. King’s work and focus on two issues that are still of paramount importance today: economic equality for all people and supporting peace.

Shortly before his death, Dr. King was working on a campaign to eradicate poverty and “dramatize the reality of joblessness and deprivation by bringing those excluded from the economy to the doorstep of the nation’s leaders.” As an elected leader, I take my responsibility to act in the best interests of my constituents very seriously. I urge my Congressional colleagues to do the same.

Here in Idaho, we have an unemployment rate of 3.9%, yet 15.5% of Idahoans live below the poverty line. While we’re not the worst in the nation, we certainly want to do better. It takes a federal-state partnership focused on investing in the right programs to make sure that our economy is healthy.

States cannot adequately invest in the programs that serve our nation’s citizens and keep them healthy, employed, and thriving when our nation’s federal budget is focused so heavily on weapons and wars. The Pentagon consumes more than half of all federal discretionary spending that Congress votes on each year, and this needs to change. It is vital that we spend what is needed to stay safe from 21st century threats and provide for our troops, but we must also ensure that we meet the needs of the population here at home.

Martin Luther King, Jr. was an advocate for peaceful resolution to conflict and took an outspoken stance against war. In his famous speech against the Vietnam War, Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “America, the richest and most powerful nation in the world, can well lead the way in this revolution of values. There is nothing except a tragic death wish to prevent us from reordering our priorities so that the pursuit of peace will take precedence over the pursuit of war.”

Throughout our history, Americans have successfully negotiated agreements demonstrating how successful diplomacy can be in averting war and addressing serious security threats. With that in mind, I urge my colleagues, locally and nationally, to continue to strive to make the pursuit of peace a top priority.

Our nation’s leaders have a moral obligation to set this nation on a path toward a stable economic future, to spend wisely and to tax fairly, and to invest in a more peaceful future. We must focus on helping us build a strong, vibrant, and durable economy and a safe homeland. We cannot continue to invest in outdated weapons programs like our oversized nuclear weapons arsenal that are not appropriate for modern threats or cost effective. We must reshape our federal budget priorities to ensure that we take care of our most vulnerable citizens and do our part to realize the legacy of the great Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Senator Cherie Buckner-Webb represents District 19. She is a 2014  winner of the Gandhi, King, Ikeda award for Peace and Justice and a State Director for the Women Legislators’ Lobby (WiLL), a program of Women’s Action for New Directions (WAND).

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