It is easy to understand why Rep. Mike Moyle, R-Star, is such a powerful leader in the Idaho Legislature.
Moyle, the House majority leader running for his 12th term, speaks with authority — some would call it condescension — he knows the history and complexity of Idaho legislation (and how to pull the levers of political power) and he seemingly has all the answers.
We find ourselves agreeing with Moyle on some things, but on some major overall issues facing Idaho, such as education funding and tax cuts, we find ourselves disagreeing with his answers.
We also find his style leaves little room for compromise — it’s either his way or the highway — and he can be seen as a bully, even among his Republican colleagues.
Moyle’s challenger, Cindy Currie, running as an independent, is not our ideal candidate. She is not as detailed in her answers or specific on her solutions. But she is identifying the right problems that need to be addressed — increasing funding for public education and reducing property taxes for residential property owners.
Currie, a high school chemistry teacher, told the editorial board she wants to increase education funding, making the case that Idaho is not fulfilling its constitutional mandate to “establish and maintain a general, uniform and thorough system of public, free common schools.” She points out that some school districts are bolstered by voter-approved, property tax-supported supplemental levies while some school districts are forced to operate four days a week because of a lack of funding. Idaho ranks 51st in the nation in per pupil spending.
While this board may agree in principle with Currie’s assessment of Idaho’s public education system and the need for more funding, Currie was not able to give specifics about what exemptions to eliminate, how much education funding should be increased or where increased funding should go to improve education.
Moyle, staying true to his positions of the past two decades in office, wants to cut taxes. He wants to use the internet sales tax fund to lower personal income taxes, arguing that if Idaho wants to keep businesses and residents in Idaho, we have to have low tax rates that are competitive with neighboring states.
We also question the need to continue cutting taxes when our current and previous tax rates didn’t seem to be slowing anyone down from moving into Idaho. Further, Idaho has a laundry list of unfunded needs from education to transportation to corrections.
Moyle also wants to cut property taxes, but he simply wants to limit what cities and counties can collect in property taxes. Moyle last session proposed a property tax freeze, which was met by an outcry from city and county officials from all over Idaho who argued strenuously against it.
He speaks derisively of the option to raise the homeowners exemption, especially in districts like his in which most of the properties are residential.
“Even if you fall for the argument that the Democrats are spewing, unless