ID House majority leader faces challenge from an independent

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.

Cindy Currie

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 you start building more businesses, there’s still nobody to shift it to,” Moyle told the board.

In the end, the voters of District 14, historically a solidly Republican district in western Ada County that includes Star and Eagle, can be pretty sure of what they’ll get with a vote for Moyle. The hard-charging, hard-nosed politician who is the longest actively serving member of the Idaho Legislature will fight like hell to get another cut to the personal income tax rate and he’ll probably get it, too. He’ll fight to put some sort of restraint on local government spending, regardless of how much complaining he hears about it from county clerks, commissioners and mayors. If there’s a little bit of extra money coming into the state coffers to boost education spending a little bit, he probably won’t complain too much, but neither will he champion it.

For those voters in District 14 who are tired of getting the same results, who want their representative to think about improving education funding before being so quick on the draw with a tax cut, Currie is your candidate.

Currie, a political novice, is smart and has good ideas, but she will face a steep learning curve if elected.

We feel the better choice in this race is Currie, who has been committed to educating Idaho students for 20 years and understands what a “free and through education” means.

Statesman editorials are the unsigned opinion expressing the consensus of the Idaho Statesman’s editorial board. Board members are publisher Rusty Dodge, editor Christina Lords, opinion editor Scott McIntosh, newsroom editors Dana Oland and Jim Keyser and community members Mike Wetherell and Sophie Sestero.

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