Idaho is about to suffer a self-inflicted wound.
With a vote of 19-15 this week, the state Senate approved a bill that will remove $18 million in gas tax revenue from the budget for the Idaho State Police and shift it to the coffers of the Idaho Transportation Department.
The Senate chose highway repairs over public safety in a whiplash vote on a bill that was nearly identical to a bill defeated just a week ago.
The condition of Idaho’s highways is a disgrace, but the choice between repairs and law enforcement is a false choice.
Idaho could have both if the 2018 Legislature had not, at former Gov. Butch Otter’s behest, passed tax cuts that resulted in $100 million less revenue to the state this year.
Supporters of the mammoth funding cut claimed that the Legislature would make up the funding for ISP in future years. However, they didn’t say what year that would be.
The assurance is cold comfort. Idaho drivers know full well that there is precious little speed enforcement out there right now. The 80-mph speed limit on Idaho’s interstate highways has become more of a suggestion than a rule.
Even the potholes don’t keep drivers on state highways from pressing their luck. What will the highways become with even less speed and safety enforcement?
The choice was created by legislators for whom shrinking government trumps everything else. The choice for Idahoans shouldn’t be death by pothole or death by excessive speed.
Taxpayers can afford both good highways and robust law enforcement.