A proposal to change the way food stamps are distributed in Idaho certainly wins points for cleverness. But that’s all it gets.
House Bill 565 purports to fix a problem with food stamps. Right now, food stamp money is given out on the first day of the month. This causes 200,000 food stamp users to flood stores on a single day. Store owners complain that the result is long lines, upset customers and food abandoned in carts left to spoil.
The bill would allow the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare to stagger the release of food stamp money and cause food stamp recipients to visit the stores over several days.
Here’s the problem: First, the bill pays for this little exercise with so-called performance money from the federal government. Performance bonus money is rewarded to the state when the state does a good job administering the program. In recent years, a good job has included signing up vast new people for food stamps. So now this bill proposes a process wherein there is an incentive to keep adding people onto the government program. That’s a tad diabolical.
I’m certain that’s not the sponsor’s intent, but that is the end result.
Second, the point of the bill is to make food distribution easier. There is not a lot to be gained by making government handouts easier. When the safety net becomes a hammock, it becomes harder to get out. That’s why House Bill 565 poses real problems, if it becomes a law.
While there are a number of complicated issues raised by that case, as with many eminent domain cases, it is the dispute over attorney fees that really caught my attention.
As reported in the article, the private attorney hired by the Idaho Transportation Department to litigate on its behalf is now seeking approximately $1.1 million (nearly twice the determined value of the land in dispute) from the landowner to pay for ITD’s attorney fees in the case.
You read that correctly: ITD essentially wants the landowner to pay ITD for taking the landowner’s property against the landowner’s wishes.
For more information about this case and about the constitutional requirements for “just compensation” please click HERE.
The great thing about having been around awhile is that you get to understand the habits of lawmakers during good times and bad.
During bad times, lawmakers struggle to pay for government services. They prioritize. They remove dead wood. They consider alternatives.
During “good times,” they spend. They spend a lot. They often overspend. This is where we are today.
The economy in Idaho, as in other states, has picked up a bit. I wouldn’t say that the glory days, the period after the 2003 recession and before the economic downturn of 2008, are back. In fact, in many respects, Obama administration policies are prolonging the “bad times.” That doesn’t stop lawmakers from confusing the two.
As a result, Idaho is on the brink of a spending spree. Minus the tricks and budget gimmicks, our general fund spending may even exceed $3 billion for the first time. And I’ll be more than happy to help identify which legislators contributed to that milestone.
Furthermore, the state continues the policy of “see federal money, get federal money.” Our reliance on federal money is not sustainable.
As we arrive at Mardi Gras, it is a bit unfortunate that lawmakers think the theme of this year’s legislative session is Laissez les bons temps rouler. French Cajun, for “Let the good times roll,” which is fine for New Orleans this week, not so fine with for Idaho taxpayers.
Imagine trying to decide between your health and your car payment, or your rent, or food. Sadly, people go through this every day. Advocates of Big Government would say the answer is, unsurprisingly, more government. But that’s not the case. Charity clinics offer health care to those that need it, when they need it.
Center for Defense of Liberty director, Geoff Talmon, testifies on ‘justice reinvestment’ legislation
Geoffrey Talmon, attorney for the Idaho Freedom Foundation’s Center for Defense of Liberty, said IFF “organization supports the reform effort, but we believe the bill needs some revisions. We believe there needs to be a clearer distinction between violent and nonviolent behavior. I like the idea that there is the presumption that if you make a mistake, we can offer correction and put you back on the right path. We need some more clarity on the category distinctions.”
Watch his full comments on the “justice reinvestment” legislation below: