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New Idaho Coalition Dives Into Budget Issues

February 28, 2011

BOISE, Idaho A lot of questions about Idaho's budget situation need answers. That's the starting point for a new coalition, Idahoans for Balanced Fiscal Policy, that will explore the state's tax structure, tax loopholes, tax breaks, poor job growth and other economic factors that hit the pocketbooks of families and the state.

Linda Jensen, who is executive director of Idaho Kids Count, a coalition member, says the debate has not been balanced because the focus has been solely on budget cuts, which she says also explains why it's so hard for Idaho to balance the budget.

"From a research perspective, I think we need to have options to look at different ways to balance the whole idea of revenue. I don't think we've done a good job of that at all."

Jensen says revenue is part of any budget and it deserves scrutiny and restructuring in bad times as well as good times.

The coalition will also examine the state's budget situation through a lens of better efficiency - and morality. Jensen says what is funded, what is taxed, and what is cut should reflect public priorities.

"Looking at really what you value - the value of education, the value of public structures, and how to pay for them in different ways - as opposed to just cutting out the heart of them."

She admits that one of the biggest challenges will be overcoming the rhetoric that categorizes all taxes as "bad."

Catholic Charities of Idaho, Disability Rights Idaho, and the Idaho Community Action Network are among the coalition's 30 members.

Deb Courson, Public News Service - ID