I receive communications on a daily basis asking that education funding be protected. These Idaho citizens correctly identify the importance of education. I want to point out that I and my fellow legislators do not want to reduce education funding; however, we are faced with two choices due to falling tax revenues:
1. Reduce education funding as well as funding to other state agencies
2. Raise taxes
I do not believe that raising taxes at this time is wise. Increasing taxes will cause even more harm to the economy. Tax revenues are down because the private sector of the economy is shrinking. If we want tax revenues to increase, we must stimulate the private sector of the economy.
The private sector will most effectively be stimulated by focusing on the "big five': logging, mining, agriculture, manufacturing, and energy. The "big five' will not be significantly stimulated unless the burden of environmental regulations is reduced. I do not believe that this recession can end until the "big five' once again grow and expand.
Once the "big five' start expanding, then tax revenues will increase allowing for increased public education funding. If the "big five' continue to struggle, tax revenues will remain flat or even decrease further. I do not see the end of this recession until political leaders and citizens at the local, state, and federal level start discussing the need to reform environmental regulations. I do not mean their total repeal; but rather, recognition of the cost and damage done by the high cost of senseless environmental regulation.
There is a link between public school funding and the economy and natural resources. The economy cannot grow until the natural resource segment of the economy grows. The natural resource segment of the economy is struggling because of the weight of environmental regulations.
I believe that we have a choice to either embrace sensible environmentalism or endure continued public school funding declines. The American economy can't support both heavy-handed environmentalism and big government spending. There is an opportunity for school teachers to lead in creating balance between proper use of our natural resources.