Monday, April 22, 2024

CHILDREN: Let’s work on what matters

| February 25, 2024 1:00 AM

Senate Bill 1289 (SB 1289) is promoted as legislation to protect children from harmful materials in libraries. It is similar to the 2023 Idaho legislative session House Bill 139 (HB 139) which Governor Little vetoed.

SB 1289 has been described as a solution in search of a problem. Where is the evidence of the problem this bill is attempting to solve? How many children have been harmed by library materials? 

In contrast, Idaho has numerous problems that are harming thousands of Idaho’s children. Here’s evidence of some of those problems:

Insufficient public school funding. Idaho ranks dead last in the nation for per pupil spending per U.S. Census 2020.

Unhoused children. The Idaho State Department of Education states that over 9,100 (about 3%) of Idaho students experienced homelessness in the 2022-2023 school year.

Food insecurity. According to the Idaho Food Bank, 40,410 of Idaho’s children (8.6%) experienced food insecurity in 2021.

The fiscally prudent step is to use public resources to address documented, serious problems that affect children before using public resources for a perceived issue from local and out of state special interest groups with agendas.

Until legislators have demonstrated that they have wisely utilized public resources to solve REAL problems that affect too many of Idaho’s children, bills such as SB 1289 are nothing more than political theater and performance art. They will certainly be remembered as such come Nov. 5, 2024.


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