Luna Seeks To Reduce Taxpayer Protection

Those sneaky politicos are at it again!

Idaho Superintendent of Education Tom Luna is packaging an attempt to dilute the power of the people as a boon to education. His proposal would create additional taxes on businesses that don’t have a vote and it would open the door to easier passage of ALL long term debt.

The truth is, ALL proposed long term debt (usually bonds) would have the same lowered threshhold…be they for ill conceived police buildings, parking garages, swimming pools, or golf course irrigation systems. If the amendment passed, school bond elections would also have the lower requirement.

Luna seeks to amend the Idaho Constitutional requirement that two thirds of voters approve long term debt. He sells it as a hurdle being too high to pass badly needed school bonds. It would also open the door to REPRESENTATION WITHOUT TAXATION.

That’s right. Better than half of the assessed valuation in Ada County is commercial real estate. No matter the value, those owners have no voice at the polls. In Valley County a huge chunk of the valuation (recreation property) is owned by nonresidents of the county who cannot vote.

Bottom line: a tiny fraction of the electors can impose their will on the vast majority of the property taxpayers. Hence, the rationale behind the two-thirds super majority requirement. Also, well reasoned and needed school bonds have a pretty fair passage rate in Idaho when honestly presented.

The Daily Paper jumped aboard with an editorial endorsing Luna’s proposal to lower the bar to a mere 60% of voters. Their property and that of all their advertisers would be subject to increased taxes without representation. The 2/3 requirement is a safeguard and serves to level the playing field.

The GUARDIAN has a counter offer. We will support Luna’s proposal if he will support ours:

Change to the Idaho RECALL PETITION requirement to allow the same number of signatures that were required on the nominating petition. OR 20% of the number of votes cast in the last election for that office.

Here is the current law for recall petitions which makes removing a politico nearly impossible:
“(recall petition) must be signed by registered electors equal in number to twenty percent (20%) of the number of electors registered to vote at the last general election held to elect a governor.”

We seek only to change the language to 20% of “those who voted.” The current law could easily require more petition signatures than votes originally cast.

To those who seek a more reasonable law, here is your chance to jump aboard—and it takes only a simple majority of the legislature to pass it!

Comments & Discussion

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  1. “Better than half of the assessed valuation in Ada County is commercial real estate. No matter the value, those owners have no voice at the polls. In Valley County a huge chunk of the valuation (recreation property) is owned by nonresidents of the county who cannot vote.”
    Another good reason that property tax should be based on the cost of providing property-related services only.. without regard to assessed valuation.

  2. Mr. Watcher
    Jul 8, 2009, 8:29 am

    Luna is off the deep end of stupidity and can’t think past the end of his nose. Right now Idaho needs to do whatever it takes to reduce the taxes on businesses mostly small to medium sized business. The key to keeping Idaho folks from starving or moving away is jobs. Any new taxes or scams to scam new tax games on business is very dangerous in this bad economy.

    Luna’s conduct is that of a government employee who has zero clue to what goes on in the real world. He has never giving it a single thought to what it takes to keep the doors open for business in the private sector. All he engages his mind to do is scam money away from productive citizens.

    Luna’s scam will reduce the value of commercial property in a very bad economy. What new business would want to move here to get hammered with taxing scams like Luna wants to inflict on businesses.

    I have been proved correct in my posting below to another story. My posting was the Idaho Statesmen has never seen a tax they didn’t like. The Statesmen in my personal view, nothing but a propaganda daily printing to promote large and over bearing government on citizens. Again this is my view by what I see from that company. I no longer use the word newspaper for the Statesmen because it simply doesn’t apply to them.

  3. Time for something to seriously change in this country. We pay lawyers to argue with each other and the only ones that EVER really win in a court case are the lawyers. THEN we let them become politicians and they sit in their high and mighty places and create laws to protect themselves and make themselves wealthier on the taxpayer’s dime….

    Look at what happened when the tax paying citizens of Idaho voted FOR term limits for the crooks…

    Look at the way they determine their own pay and retirement systems…


  4. Property owners get stuck paying the bills when bond elections pass muster with the voters.

    Not every voter is a property owner. Every property owner is not eligible to vote in bond elections due to their place of residence.

    “it is for the children” is a pharase that is getting old and we need to pass what we can pay for and not pass what is not necessary. give citizens and taxpayers some credit on these matters. School bonds have a decent history of passage.

    The 2/3rds requirement is not a “super majoirty” it is a reasonable threshold to protect property owners from over-taxation by elected officials, appointed officials and voters who are not stake holders in the repayment of the bond principle and interest charges.

    If they want “new pretty stuff” then sell it to the folks who get stuck paying the bills. Don’t come back with the election process is weighted against bond passage and we now need to change the Idaho Constitution.

  5. Certainly some good points, David. Agree totally on your recall rewording. It was probably the intent in the first place. Laws often have unintended consequences.

  6. Paul, “give the citizens and taxpayers some credit on these matters”? Would these be the same citizens that have elected the current mayor of Boise and the majority of the city council? The same citizens that elected two of the three county commishes? The same citizens that have elected the current slate of state representatives and senators?
    If anything, the “super majority” needs to be raised to 75%!!

  7. cyclops, good observations on your part. Elected officials start running for reelection the minute they take office.

    A personal observation on my part is, most elected officials would not make it to the interview process for their jobs but they manage to get themselves elected to public office.

    It amazes me just how far these people can go with their limited skil sets. They spend millions of our tax dollars with little to no accoutability for how things actually turn out.

  8. Luna is not trying to pull the wool over anyone’s eyes. Small rural districts are dealing with aging schools that are often substandard. If the school buildings were funded from the state coffers this would not be an issue. The other potential long term debt/bond elections are an unintended recipient of Luna’s proposal. Schools facilities are in need of a different funding formula.

    Luna should also propose to consolidate school districts to show the voters that he is not about spending money.

  9. Horse pucky Clancy! Emmett, Horseshoe Bend, and Idaho City school districts just ordered brand new state of the art, telephone systems. If you had the remotest idea the level of waste and needless spending by the IED and various local districts, it would curl your toes! Luna is not the problem with consolidation of many of our school districts, it’s the pompous, greedy, desperate to hold their independance, district hierarchy that will hold on to the gravy train at any cost!

  10. The problem with education is the administration. It has become an industry un to itself. The layers of bureacracy that BIG EDUCATION has created for itself is mind boggling. Union protected, government subsidized, and growing rapidly under the guise of “for the kids.” Self important titles abound in every district headquarters, and school. These are not educators they are executives throwing our money down a black hole.

    Clancy, if you want to sponsor another regional assistant superintendent to come up with more TPS reports for the assistant directors of assessments then so be it. Personally I’d like to vote on where my tax dollars are spent and how.

  11. John Q Publique
    Jul 9, 2009, 10:59 pm

    After hearing Superintendent Luna on KBOI Wednesday morning I was left with the impression that the proposed reduction to a 60% debt approval level was the follow up to election consolidation. He seemed to reason that since we now have consolidated elections we will have greater voter turn out and because we will have greater voter turn out we somehow can reduce the debt approval threshold.

    I’d suggest the jury is still out, and will be out for some time, on whether or not consolidated elections will significantly improve voter turn out. Have we even had one consolidated election yet? Consolidated elections should reduce costs overall but whether they will significantly improve voter turn out remains to be seen.

    Since we don’t know whether consolidated elections will significantly improve voter turn out, it seems premature to suggest that the debt approval threshold be lowered. It appears the Superintendent is putting the cart well before the horse.

    Legislators will be under significant pressure to put this proposed Constitutional amendment on the ballot. That pressure will come from their local school districts, the Idaho Education Association, other school related special interest groups, plus other government special interest groups. Don’t be surprised to see the proposal pass the legislature. “Let the people decide” or “It’s for the children” probably will be the mantras.

    Most Districts are able to make their case under the current 2/3rds requirement and get their bonds passed. It may take a couple of tries, but usually it works. The Superintendent seemed to admit as much on KBOI. So, if that is the case, why change the threshold requirement?

    Yes, Clancy, there may be a few Districts in poor financial condition with buildings that need replacement. Some form of State aid, perhaps in the form of a state backed loan, might be appropriate in those cases. But I would have to agree with Cyclops also. Knowing people who have worked for school districts and who been in positions to observe things on a District wide scale, I can confirm there is a substantial amount of waste and budget hide and seek in many Districts. In some Districts, usually larger ones, year end budget “surpluses” are more a result of over budgeting than good fiscal management. In some cases those budget “surpluses” are enough, or almost enough, to build an elementary school each year. And those “surpluses” are in addition to the “contingency” funds in their budgets.

    Let’s not lower the debt approval threshold. Instead let’s take a long, hard look at school budgets. Zero based budgeting would be a start.

  12. If you check the record you will find that the recall provision in state code was changed after the successful recall of Idaho Falls Legislators Aden Hyde and Fisher Ellsworth.

    The recall statute was not anywhere near as difficult then as it is now and it wasn’t used much either. But when two legislators defied the voters of their district by voting for a pay raise after the voters had specifically voted against a pay raise they were recalled. Next session, lawmakers made sure that would not happen again. Since the change in the law the recall statute has rarely even been attempted. The exception of course is Brent Coles. But even in that case a recall election was never held because he resigned instead.

  13. I get most irritated when I see that there are so many tiny little school districts who get way more money from our State tax dollars per pupil than Joint District 2 (Meridian), which I believe now is the biggest.

    At one time, just a few years ago, the Avery District had FIVE kids in it – the state aid per pupil was $100,000.00 each. Meridian’s per pupil aid from the state was a little over $5,000 – lower than the average.

    A perfect example of where savings could occur would be through consolidation of districts. Up North, Mullan, Kellogg and Wallace could be combined. It’s been talked about but they resist mightily because of “community pride”. That’s easily solved by spreading the high school, middle school and elementary schools to each community. This is not the only area where consolidation should occur. Just as we no longer have one room schools, we don’t need tiny school districts.

    Consolidation would allow more opportunities for the kids. Distance learning on computers could be an option.

    Let’s use this “crisis” in funding to innovate instead of just trying to suck more money from the taxpayers.

  14. Mr. Watcher
    Jul 12, 2009, 7:46 am

    A few points to add in to the mix on this topic. A damning fact is the number grads this state sees coming out of high school. The SAT test of the ones that do walk are ugly as well.

    What we have in Idaho is a large percent of the population that lacks any kind of useful education to help them provide a decent livelihood. Using this poor quality of eduaction kids receive in Idaho I’ll show how its a chain reaction to more government cost to taxpayers and becomes red carpet to government employees.

    The US has more people in prison than China or Russia combined. The US has 1 in 34 people in prison or just released from prison on supervised release. The state with the most people in prison is GA with 1 in 17 in prison or just released on supervised release. The number two state is Idaho with 1 in 18 in prison or just released on supervised release. Here come the knock down punch. Police and county DA’s all the time charge very petty shoplifting as felony burglary. Where poorly educated yound men are charged with felony drug charges for one gram of pot. This is done to people who do not have any kind of a decent education and are taking advantave of because they don’t know how to defend themselves in the system. These folks are used as pawns in the criminal justice system to support that system.

    I personally believe that if Idaho had any kind of a decent government run education system–which we clearly do not have by the numbers, our prison population would be much lower. The cost to taxpayers to feed the education and criminal justice system in this state are beyond huge. You can bet the folks that live off of the system know this and will do whatever it takes to protect themselves. I see no way of protecting ourselves from such a system as long as that system keeps dumbing down the children in the government schools.

  15. Mr Watcher. Great Points.

    You are absolutely right that we are locking way too many people up for minor drug crimes which does nothing to rehab them, but only adds to overcrowding and higher costs and turning these people into unemployables for the most part.

    The parole and probation departments exist to churn people, into and out and into and out of the system. There does not seem to be any attempt at rehabilitation. Petty vindictiveness is rampant. It’s very hard in our Idaho system for someone to turn their lives around once they are caught up in the net.

    You’re absolutely right about the graduation rate. We never seem to hear much about that, even though it’s dismal. Let’s face it. When we hear people clamoring for more money for the education system saying “it’s for the chilllllldrrrrennnnnn”, it’s really not – it’s for the unions and the administrators.

    There really is no innovation in educational delivery. It’s just give me more money more often.

  16. Blah,blah,blah….not one of the intellectuals on this post mentioned the years of pathetic education mandates dished out by the Republicans with No Child Left Behind. Thanks Mr. Bush. It is more than school buildings. For 2 generations or more we have been trying to educate our kids to become computer literate, information workers. Very few have the survival skills learned in Shop and Home Economics.
    The schools teach all kids on a college prep program. I guess so they can go into massive financial debt to work in non existent jobs.
    We need a two track education system like the one found in most European countries. Mr. Luna thinks he can get better results by doing the same thing. Politicians are really Politrixians. Hold their feet to the fire.

  17. Dog, NCLB was co-sponsored by Ted Kennedy, both parties are to blame for the state of education. BIG Educations Unions are squarely on the left but the right spends like drunken sailors too. It is safe to say that throwing more money at the problem is not working. Below is a link I found somewhat insightful.

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