Recently, some organizations in Idaho have been agitating for additional federal spending to finance direct subsidies to individuals. Some have even resorted to publicly displaying banners on a busy street in downtown Boise calling on elected officials to further increase spending.

Idaho has already received more than $2.5 billion in supplemental federal funding over the last several months, yet for some people, even this massive influx of debt-financed spending falls short of their ambitions.

For those who advocate socialized medicine, unearned income and other handouts, there really is no amount of spending that would satisfy them. I recently spoke to the manager of the Budget & Policy Analysis Division of the Legislative Services Office about the federal money flowing into Idaho. Even many elected officials are struggling to grasp the full scope of these federal funds and associated spending.

An updated summary of this spending was recently prepared for Idaho’s federal senators and legislative leadership. I strongly support this level of transparency being made available to the general public as well, so that everyone can have a greater understanding of what is taking place.

I have always considered it my responsibility to advocate for Idaho taxpayers and to facilitate openness and transparency regarding government spending. I believe that the people have a right to know what their elected officials are saying and doing, and this is one reason why I have always strongly supported Idaho’s open meeting laws.

I serve on the Coronavirus Financial Advisory Committee, where I am one of just four members who are elected officials. The other twelve committee members represent various departments, agencies, and special interests. I consider it my duty to represent the taxpayers of Idaho — the ones ultimately paying the bills — and to be a voice for fiscal restraint and responsibility, even when profligacy may be in vogue.

The solution to difficult times is not to increase the size, scope and spending of government, but to decrease these things and to put our resources in the hands of the private sector where they can grow and prosper. Reducing the taxes, regulations, and mandates that stand in the way of people earning money through hard work and entrepreneurial endeavors is always a superior alternative to increasing subsidies and handouts.

As I have traveled across our beautiful state, meeting with Idaho business owners and discussing their challenges and successes, I have frequently heard them express a desire for more consistent, conservative and transparent government. They are very concerned about rising debt and deficits and the inflation and tax increases these practices precipitate. Together, we can get Idaho back to work and move away from debt-financed spending and other programs that foster dependency. I invite all Idahoans to participate in these noble endeavors.

Janice McGeachin is the lieutenant governor of Idaho.

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