Op-Ed by Ronald M. Nate, Ph.D.
The Idaho budget committee erupted into a full-blown circus this past Friday. The center ring featured nine leftist Republicans colluding with Democrats to explode spending in Idaho government. But, just who is the ringleader of this nefarious act?
All indicators point to Sen. Chuck Winder orchestrating this show, which is actually far less fun than a real circus. In the budget committee Friday morning, spectators saw motions, counter-motions, inquiries, confusion, going-at-ease pauses, and spending … lots of spending.
Why? After already voting on the conservative base budgets two weeks ago, the big-spender legislators on the budget committee weren’t satisfied. They schemed and plotted to blow the lid off the committee process to execute their grow-the-government spending plans.
In a surprise to committee chair Sen. Scott Grow (co-chair Rep. Wendy Horman was absent), the majority of the committee voted to undo the conservative base budgets while passing the bigger budgets with large spending items added onto the base spending. At stake is about $1.5 billion of additional spending across all the budgets and that could mean as much as $2,300 in taxes for the average household in Idaho. It’s a huge development.
The votes were consistent. Here are the big-spender circus players and their ringleader:
It’s been a long-standing, unwritten rule and traditional expectation that surprise motions going against the procedural process set by the committee chair(s), are taboo. Usually, a legislator or group of legislators going rogue or voting against the procedure set by the chair would be disciplined or removed from their assignments. But not yesterday.
Just last November, Senate leader Chuck Winder disciplined three senators for merely making statements critical of fellow senators. Two years ago his caucus chair reprimanded Sen. Christy Zito by issuing a press release accusing her of colluding with Democrats, and then he allowed majority caucus members to take turns criticizing her in an hours-long closed-door caucus meeting. Zito’s offense? She simply made a floor motion to move a bill to amending orders to try to get grocery tax repeal, but did so unbeknownst to the bill sponsor.
We reached out to Winder to find out his plans for dealing with his rogue senators on the JFAC committee. He did not return calls, and otherwise he has been silent on the whole budget circus matter. Apparently he approves of how things went down; or worse, has been directing the circus to begin with.
This makes sense because for the last two weeks, Winder has been trying to undo the process of base budgets set in place by co-chairs Grow and Horman. He explored ideas for invoking a little-known legislative rule (Joint Rule 11) to wrestle back control of the committee, there were discussions for JFAC rescinding the base budget motions, and possibilities for the Senate to hold or return the budget bills. All of Winder’s efforts were met with roadblocks until yesterday’s circus unfolded in committee. Winder’s fingerprints are all over this spending coup.
We, at the Idaho Freedom Foundation, are watching carefully and encouraging fiscally conservative legislators to hold the line against this big-spending siege. When soft Republican legislators find it necessary to team with Democrats to effectively overrule the conservative spending process of the budget committee chairs, there are shenanigans at play. Normally, such shenanigans are shut down by leadership, but not so yesterday.
Take note, Idaho. Your legislature is set to spend record amounts of your tax dollars in the next few weeks, and it’s only happening because soft “main street caucus” Republicans are performing in the center ring with liberal Democrats, all at the direction and approval of the ringleader, Sen. Chuck Winder. Watch your wallets! More than mere peanuts are at stake.
Ronald M. Nate, Ph.D.
Ronald Nate is president of the Idaho Freedom Foundation. This story originally appeared at the Idaho Freedom Foundation website and is reprinted here with permission. The original article can be found here.
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