Senator Jim Risch spoke before the Idaho Senate this week, telling the same jokes and using the same props he used a year ago. Democrats and Republicans noticed this. His address ended up sounding like little more than a tired partisan stump speech, void of substantive policy or real thought. The senator has been in office for a year and has little to say but how awful a place it is. Senator Crapo could have said the same but did not and chose to focus more on issues and on Idaho.
One has to wonder how completely U.S. Senate was Risch's fall back since Otter was then the one in line for governor. Risch shows little or no passion for issues of any kind. He is not a policy maker. A year later no solutions for how to better regulate insurance companies, how to save struggling small businesses or make it so that Idaho families are no longer going bankrupt over medical bills or the down economy.
And worse the Senator spoke to us in a context where he addressed a state and legislative body facing the grim error of having bowed to then Governor Risch's very forceful persuasion to pass a huge tax shift that now clearly has put Idaho public schools in a dire position. Millions of dollars in property tax cuts went to out of state entities, huge corporations and speculators while schools lost over $100 million net and the security of more stable property tax funding evaporated. Yet worse families picked up the tab for millions in business tax reductions.
You can hear the buyer's remorse in the voices of those legislators who resisted the shift, voted no to stop what they knew was poor policy until given no choice in that one summer special session of 2006.
It was a less than sweet homecoming for the man who did not acknowledge the part he played in the budget mess our schools now face… the man who seems even to have forgotten or chosen not to care which speech he gave us just last year.