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EDITORIAL: Welcome to new thinker on the block

| August 14, 2022 1:00 AM

We all appreciate having choices.

Idahoans in general and fiscal conservatives in particular are about to have a choice as consumers of key issues. A nonprofit think tank called Mountain States Policy Center is now open for business.

The organization, co-founded by Kootenai County resident Becky Funk, will research and analyze important issues. Through its website, social media and yes, even newspapers, the Mountain States Policy Center will share with Idahoans its analysis of important issues through the lens of data scrutiny rather than political ideology.

Make no mistake: Mountain States Policy Center’s songs likely won’t be music to everyone's ears. Unapologetically, its leaders will be advocating positions based on free market principles, which in the words of President and CEO Chris Cargill form “the most revolutionary force for change that the world has ever known.”

What you won’t find on its website or read in its newspaper columns are candidate endorsements, political smear campaigns or deep dives into the pit of cultural consternation. Somebody else can grind axes over abortion, critical race theory and guns. Mountain States Policy Center promises to be laser-focused on actual issues, with conclusions backed by hard data.

Mountain States Policy Center won’t be the first Idaho-centric organization coming at you from the position of reducing taxes, lowering health care costs, assisting small business and demanding government transparency — four corners of a home built on a free market foundation. The Idaho Freedom Foundation might have started with those ideals but has devolved over the years into a toxic collaborative of personalities bent on making and breaking political careers and crushing the respectful exchange of ideas.

Cargill and Funk told The Press on Friday that Mountain States Policy Center's nonpartisanship extends to the hope that they’ll meet not just with Idaho’s Republican caucus but with Democrats, too.

“The best ideas don’t come when you’re sitting in an echo chamber,” Funk said.

While many Democrats might disagree with the center’s stance against an education-investment measure headed for the November ballot, Cargill said, more common ground might exist in its gas tax initiative — to require governments to show consumers on gas pumps how much they’re paying in state (32 cents per gallon) and federal (18 cents) taxes. People should have a better idea why their gas costs so much and who is (and isn’t) responsible.

As a fledgling organization, the proof will be in the pudding, but The Press welcomes an impressive new player at the Idaho policy table. We will respectfully disagree at times with Mountain States Policy Center's conclusions and recommendations, but we’re certain of this: Unlike the Idaho Freedom Foundation, Mountain States Policy Center has the state’s best interests at heart.

That’s a refreshing and encouraging new choice for all of us.

Mountain States Policy Center: mountainstatespolicy.org

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