Labrador Votes Against Rural Schools

Maybe we should ask Raul Labrador why he doesn’t support rural schools in Idaho and Clearwater counties. Idahoans living in those counties have to rely on Democrats from across the border in Oregon and Washington to help fund their roads and schools.

The Secure Rural Schools partnership brings about $23.4 million to Idaho. The largest part of that funding, $6.25 million, goes to Idaho County roads and schools. The next biggest chunk goes to Clearwater County– their schools and roads will miss about $1.1 million in funding. And guess what? This money isn’t coming back to Idaho anytime soon.

Labrador, Risch, Crapo and Simpson– they’re not Idaho representatives. They don’t go to DC to work on legislation that will make our state more prosperous. They go to DC to stuff their pockets with special interest money.

Let’s start voting for our best interests. *Hint-hint* they seem to look like Idaho Democrats.


Monday, April 24

6:30 PM MT

Mission Aviation Fellowship
112 N. Pilatus Lane
Nampa, ID 83687

Rural Idahoans are getting what they voted for

Marty Trillhaase

If you want to see what a state of collective shock looks like, you don’t have to travel much beyond Clearwater and Idaho counties.

Both will lose the federal Secure Rural Schools dollars they’ve relied upon ever since former Idaho Republican Sen. Larry Craig forged a partnership with Oregon Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden at the turn of the century.

With SRS expired and little hope of its revival, the state of Idaho is set to forego $23.4 million. The largest single chunk, $6.25 million, props up Idaho County’s roads and schools. Clearwater County isn’t too far behind; its schools and road departments now must absorb a $1.1 million hit.

“I think probably the very first thing we would look at is trying to make any cuts that we possibly could make with the least impact on the system,” Mountain View School District Superintendent Kent Stokes told the Tribune’s Kathy Hedberg. “But the reality is, there’s about a million dollars there and when most of your budget is eaten up with salaries and benefits, you have to start cutting staff.”

On the other hand, why is it such a surprise?

It’s not as though the people working on Idaho’s behalf in Washington, D.C., were straining to rescue SRS.

Far from it.

Back in 2008, SRS funding was attached to the Troubled Asset Relief Program. Craig and 2nd District Congressman Mike Simpson voted for TARP. Sen. Mike Crapo, and then-1st District Congressman Bill Sali voted no.

Four years later, SRS was part of a massive transportation package. Newly elected 1st District Congressman Raul Labrador was among only 52 House Republicans to oppose the package. So the people of Clearwater County had to rely on the votes of people such as Simpson from southern Idaho and Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers from eastern Washington.

Likewise, Crapo and Sen. Jim Risch joined 17 other House Republicans in voting no. All of which left Idaho County dependent upon the good will of senators such as Washington Democrats Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, as well as Oregon Democrats Wyden and Jeff Merkley, who voted for it.

Then in 2015, SRS drew its last breath of life as part of a Medicare reimbursement package dubbed “doc fix.” Once again, Labrador voted no. He was among only 37 House members who did so.

Simpson, again, voted yes. This time, he was joined by Risch and Crapo in the Senate, where the measure passed 92-8.

Where would Idaho’s congressional delegation get the idea that its tepid support of – if not outright hostility toward – SRS wasn’t going to cost them votes in north central Idaho’s forested counties?

Could it be former Idaho County Commission Chairman Jim Chmelik’s depiction of SRS as “welfare dollars” that “represent nothing more than keeping both the West and our sister states in bondage”?

How about the simple fact that Idaho’s congressional delegation pays no price at the polls for abandoning SRS on the crucial votes?

In his 2014 re-election, Risch won 65 percent statewide. In Clearwater County, he did even better, with 71.1 percent. Idaho County went 78 percent for Risch.

Same thing goes for Crapo.

Last year, he won a fourth term with 65.1 percent statewide. But they love him in Idaho County, where he got 78.3 percent. Clearwater County wasn’t far behind at 75 percent.

If SRS was so important to these communities, you’d think Labrador at least would suffer some diminution of support. Nope. Last year, he carried 68.2 percent of the vote in his district. Idaho County bested that by going 81 percent in his favor. Labrador carried Clearwater County by 74 percent.

Or could it be the voters continued this pattern by voting for Donald Trump?

Don’t forget, when Trump says he will slash spending on discretionary programs to beef up defense, he’s talking about things just like SRS. Yet, nowhere in last November’s voting would Trump get the notion he has anything to fear from north central Idaho. Whereas the president carried Idaho 59.2 percent, he got 78.3 percent in Idaho County and 75 percent in Clearwater County.

The simple fact is Idaho and Clearwater counties held on to their federal financial lifeline thanks to the efforts of Democrats elected by people beyond Idaho’s borders. But there are fewer of those people working in Washington, D.C.

With both Congress and the White House solidly in GOP hands, Idaho and Clearwater counties may be on the verge of getting just what they voted for.

– M.T.

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