Nickel and Dime


We had a visit from Senator Risch last week. He had been a state senator, then Lieutenant Governor for a long time. He assumed the Governor’s office when Kempthorne moved on to his DC appointment. Now Risch has been elected a Senator for Idaho.

Senator Risch had cautionary advice for us about the federal deficit. He tried to put it in perspective, but trillions of dollars are hard to imagine. Indeed, the curve is going up sharply.

Total public Debt and Debt/GDP

So what was his advice to State Government? Honestly, I think he was saying, “Quit whining.”

When I hear speeches like this I am moved to DO SOMETHING, even if it is just a little thing. I remember my father talking to us kids and my mom about wasteful spending. “We’re being nickel and dimed to death” was his phrase when he thought our ways weren’t frugal.

After Senator Risch left the chambers we got to work on bills. These early bills in the session are often called “housekeeping” in that they make minor corrections to code or clarifications but do not really change policy or set a new direction. For example:

  1. A bill to protect a businessman who is called away to active military duty and has to lay off his workers from having his unemployment insurance tax rate increased.
  2. A bill to allow Idaho PERSI members in the uniformed service to be considered for benefits.
  3. A bill to provide a property tax exemption for the first $400,000,000 if a company invests a billion dollars in a county.
  4. An exemption from use tax for property stored in the state by out-of-state military personnel.


So you can see we chip away at revenue, giving small deals here and there to certain folks. Sometimes we shift the burden from someone we favor to the general group. Other times there is a direct exemption. These are all small slices in the great revenue pie. I doubt that in aggregate they would lead to the great deficit we face. Still, they brought my father’s phrase to mind. I will be vigilant to save the dimes and nickels.

Thank you for all comments. I read them all. I have chosen not to post comments.

About ddxdx

A Family physician, former county coroner and former Idaho State Senator
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.