If you want the government off your back, get your hands out of its pockets.

Gary Hart

Don’t Get Used

I have seen many political tactics over the years and some even up close and personal as a Senator, but the latest trick is one that even shocks me.

It used to be that lobbyists, paid influencers, worked on legislators directly. They spent their time and their client’s money to work over lawmakers to try to force decisions and outcomes. But now, many of these lobbyists have turned their attention to you: The Constituent.

You will get an email, or even a call, to tell you to send me a message to vote, NO or YES. They make it easy; they often have the letter written for you. Your job is to click and that sends me THEIR message. This makes you the product being sold to peddle their papers!

Here’s a thought! If these notices you get seem like a good idea, instead of doing what they tell you and sending me a form letter with your name on it, just send me a personal note!

Something like, ‘Hey Carl, tell me the good news and the bad news about this topic. That is a pretty easy email to send, then I can exchange thoughts with you, and we can both be better off.

As I get more influence in my areas of responsibility in Boise, you’ll get more of this behavior from these lobbyists. Big, out of state money trying to tell you one side of a story. Trying to sell you on a point. Their point. Part truths will be thrown at you and then they conveniently let you click to send me a certain message. The message you should be getting when you see this type of behavior is that YOU are a means to an end. Their end. Not necessarily the end that’s best for you, our district, or our state!

Testing 

Last week, the State Board of Education presented to both the Senate and House Ed committees as to where we are going with testing in high school. This topic has been discussed for years and is important to the overall look at education in our state. 

The information was very good and made me think about the amount of money we spend on education. And then I had to ask the question, “Are we getting anything accomplished?”

Well, one of the ways we figure out if the students are learning and if we are accomplishing anything is by testing them. Just like we use to do with the Iowa Test of Basic Skills. New and modern ways of testing include computers instead of the trusty No. 2 pencils. But are we still doing good enough?

The State Board of Education is looking at new testing ideas to see if we can do better. We may need to change our system, which might include how we deliver the education to students. For now, the discussion is happening and there is attention on how to make it work for students and teachers, which I was happy to hear. The Board will be a good leader on this topic. 

Testing is a part of accountability. If we want to make a good education better, we need it all to work together. We don’t want education to be a big money spending activity. Results matter.

More Money from D.C.

There is another round of stimulus money coming from Washington D.C., to the tune of $1.3 billion. Yep, you may want to go back and read that again, billion with a “B”!  We always worry about money coming from the federal government because we in Idaho don’t like to do what the federal government wants us to do. We don’t like strings attached!

We’re hearing that this money will have less strings attached to it than the recent money, which is good news for Idaho. We’re also hearing that the money will go directly to cities and counties, not through the state. This is another bit of good news. I like it that we will cut out the middle-man. Too many cooks in the kitchen is never a good idea. However, if we don’t need this money, we shouldn’t take it!

It is looking like the legislature may recess and come back to address this money issue, or at least the finance committee, in a month or two. I am a part of that committee and will be a part of that work.