Idaho District 5 legislatures discuss last session with League of Women Voters

MOSCOW, ID - Moscow's League of Women Voters held a legislative discussion Wednesday afternoon to give the community a chance to catch up with their state representatives that have been busy at the State Capitol in Boise.

Reporter Rachel Dubrovin brings us the highlights of the meeting.

We're at the 1912 Center in Moscow. Idaho's District 5 legislatures met here Wednesday afternoon to discuss what happened during the last session in Boise.

"Public education in Idaho is the top budget item," said Idaho District 5 Senator Dan Schmidt.

As usual, education funding was one of the main concerns.

"It's my opinion that the majority in the legislature were a little too smug at the end of this session, thinking that we made significant progress," said Idaho District 5 Seat B Representative Shirley Ringo. "We certainly did make some."

Ringo said even though the budget for education will increase next year, it's still smaller than it was in 2009, when the economy took a turn for the worse.

"And we haven't funded growth to the extent of about $15-million," said Ringo.

She said it's frustrating to see because the state made millions of dollars worth of tax cuts over the last couple years.

"It's a matter of what priorities are," said Ringo.

Senator Dan Schmidt expressed concern about the safety and corrections budget.

"We have a state that has one of the lowest crime rates in the country, and we have one of the highest incarceration rates in the country," said Schmidt. "And those two things in my opinion don't add up."

He said legislators in Boise are looking for ways to fix that problem, such as better pay for jail employees and parole officers. The Guns on Campus bill was also addressed.

"The feeling was that because of the oath we take as public servants, that we are required to uphold the second amendment," said Idaho District 5 Seat A Representative Cindy Agidius.

Agidius explained she wasn't able to vote on the bill because of personal reasons, but she likely would have voted against it.

"We run these things through, and then we come back next year and fix them, or add to them," said Agidius. "And I don't think that's a very good way to govern."

Senator Schmidt explained that this was a short legislative session because it's a big election year and that's a time when politicians tend to shy away from controversial topics.

This was the last program Moscow's League of Women Voters will host for the spring. They'll resume meeting in the fall with a whole new list of discussion topics.