Should State Be In Business of Business?

Here is another opinion piece being presented at the Repub Convention at Twin Falls this week. Disclaimer: The GUARDIAN will gladly post rebuttals, comments, or other topical items from any other party or individual.

By Bob Forrey

The Idaho State Board of Land Commissioners, Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter, Sec. Of State Ben Ysursa, Supt. of Public Instruction Tom Luna, Attorney Gen. Lawrence Wasden, and State Controller Donna Jones, purchased a 414 unit self-storage business under the assumed name of “Affordable Self-Storage.” Business permit number D141807. This state-owned business is in competition with every other privately owned and property tax paying storage unit in Idaho, however, the State does not pay property taxes.

But this is just a beginning. This same Land Board has agreed to spend $320,000 of school endowment money to remodel an old building in downtown Boise to accommodate the “10 Barrel Brewing Idaho L.L.C.” to operate a brew pub and restaurant. A lease was signed on 11-2-11 without being offered at auction as is required by the Idaho Constitution. The Land Board now owns some 17 other buildings and parking lots in the Boise area that are now removed from the property tax base and are in competition with free enterprise businesses.

On December 20, 2011, the Land Board approved the “State Trust Lands Asset Management Plan”, with the goal of adding more properties to the commercial portfolio. The plan also calls for “Changing social and political attitudes and values, markets, and products”.

In addition, they plan on “operating a profit-oriented business within a government agency,” and “to become more competitive in the real estate market.”

In view of the fact that the current Idaho Republican Party Platform states the following: “Idaho Republicans will continue to lead the fight to reduce the growth of government bureaucracy and promote private enterprise and individual initiative in the marketplace as the solution to our domestic policy challenges,” it will be up to the grassroots Republicans to demand that the members of the Idaho Land Board, all declared to be Republicans, stop their actions of growing government in competition with private industry.

The Board must heed the warning issued by the Idaho Supreme Court in Village of Moyie Springs V. Aurora Mfg. Co. (1960):
“… it is not the function of the government to engage in private business,… If state-favored industries were successfully managed, private enterprise would of necessity be forced out, and the state, through its municipalities, would increasingly become involved in promoting, sponsoring, regulating, and controlling private businesses, and our free enterprise economy would be replaced with socialism.”

Robert M. Forrey Ltc. (Ret.)
Former State Legislator and School Board Member
State Dept. of Education Ombudsman
4900 S. Ridgewood Rd.

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. My Two Cents
    Jun 22, 2012, 12:22 pm

    It certainly seems inappropriate, if not patently illegal, for the state to operate private businesses for which they do not have to pay property taxes because government is exempt from such taxation. It is an unfair advantage that private businesses do not have. If they’re going to operate a for-profit business, I think the Legislature should change the law so that the tax exemption is removed. That way everyone is on a level playing field in terms of the expenses incurred to operate the business.

  2. Mr. Forrey has posted a well written, concise, thoughtfully prepared piece on this important subject. It won’t change a thing.

    The state does what it wants, to whom it wants, anytime it wants and knows that nobody in Idaho has the money to fight it in court. Until we the voters get past R or D, and the candidates quit pimping for the party and start working for EVERYBODY, nothing will change. And if nothing changes, nothing changes. Nuff Said.

  3. Can I assume you’re also in favor of shutting down the liquor division and opening that up to private enterprise? If not, can you please explain how it is different?

    EDITOR NOTE–Are you talking to ME? If so, I sure am in favor of getting out of the liquor business. I am also in favor of government run jails, probation, schools, etc. My big obstacle is the “profit motive”–government should be a zero sum deal to provide needed services to the public, not a way to “make money,” regardless of the cause. While we have timber and grazing lands, we should not operate saw mills and meat packing plants. The most “profitable” sector of the land board operation is cabin leases which serve select families. They should be competitively bid to give the highest return to the endowment fund. Instead, locals are “protected” for fear of “rich Californians” controlling everything.

  4. Should Ada County get rid of the landfill? Should Boise get rid of their pools? Maybe the IDL should sell their timber property too, since that competes with private lands.

  5. Many many years ago a handful of very wise people wrote some very basic rules to guide the state so as to not become like so many other systems which grew to big and imploded. Our politicos today are over-educated and under-wise.

  6. chicago sam
    Jun 22, 2012, 5:43 pm

    I am aware of a private company interested in the Canyon County Landfill. Also, I haven’t heard lately how the $250,000 study appropiated by the Legislature to study what to do with state owned land where Centennial and Ridgecrest golf courses are located is going. One rumor has it that condiminiums and a shopping center would return much more money to the State than the paltry amount paid by the City of Nampa. Funding for the study went thru the Dept. of Health and Welfare to an Eagle company

  7. Have you noticed the politicos call taxes “revenue generation”. This bunch of fools really thinks that forcefully taking money from people and businesses is the same as earning it with work, ideas, development, and manufacturing.

  8. Chuck Woods
    Jul 4, 2012, 12:29 pm

    Even more outrageous is that the state used education funds to assist a brewery. No one in any other state would even believe these things. Anywhere else there would be a public outcry and efforts to stop these robber barons.

  9. oh o, train is losing riders. Do ya think it might be because of the 6 lane freeway right next to the tracks? Or is it the stinky street trash that ride to and from their crime zones.

Get the Guardian by email

Enter your email address: