A majority of Idaho representatives and a clutch of senators are demonstrating that they have rocks in their heads where their brains should be.
They know Idaho needs to fix its crumbling roads. They’re stuck because most of them resolutely oppose the tax increases and the borrowing necessary to replace our goat paths with real highways. Their solution? Try to manipulate and lower the price of road materials by exempting them from the state’s 6 percent sales tax.
Voila! Cheaper roads, according to the 43 representatives and the Senate committee that lofted the exemption out of the House and on to the Senate floor.
Their votes overpowered other legislators who had actually gone to math class at some point in their lives.
The annoying math wonks, a group that included both District 26 Reps. Donna Pence, D-Gooding, and Steve Miller, R-Fairfield, argued that removing the sales tax would leave a gaping $15- to $20-million hole in state revenues. The point simply bounced off the foreheads of legislators so intoxicated by the wondrous way to finance Idaho roads that it did not register.
The very legislators who strenuously watchdog and constrain gambling in the state are the same ones betting millions that annual inflation will not quickly eat up any savings and that road construction companies will not happily pocket the dough, or at least a lot of it.
When the Legislature adjourns, any casino would be happy to welcome these what-the-hell happy gamblers looking to score a big payday. Like committed gamblers everywhere, they’re not averse to taking the kids’ school tuition, which comes from sales taxes, and laying it on the betting line.
If this gets through the Senate, the governor should tell legislators to sober up and then wield the big red veto stamp.