Feedback directed to the Idaho 2020 Task Force Education Committee

By Kristen Carroll,2014-04-15 05:17
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Feedback directed to the Idaho 2020 Task Force Education Committee

    Feedback directed to the Idaho 2020 Task Force

    Compiled Wednesday, November 06, 2002



    ? Complaint

    I would like to address the state of higher education at ISU from a very personal perspective. I hope the education committee will seriously consider my input.

    I am a graduate student in the Biology Department at Idaho State University. I came to Idaho from Tucson, Arizona to get my doctorate in biology. My goal is to become a biology instructor at a small university or community college. I had high expectations for a good experience at ISU after visiting the campus and talking with some of the professors.

    I am now in my third semester but am profoundly disappointed with the quality of the program and the institution. The professors, most of them highly qualified and hard-working, seem demoralized and overworked, especially the junior professors. They have high teaching loads and yet are expected to develop rigorous research programs with external funding. The two requirements are clearly not

    compatible. I have seen several searches for vacant faculty positions (several of them eliminated) this last year. One key faculty position made available with external NIH funding was unable to be filled because both qualified candidates turned the offer down. I fear the same thing will happen with the new search this fall. It is difficult to attract highly qualified faculty to a seriously underfunded institution.

    The building facility, including research laboratories and classrooms, are deteriorating and inadequate. The library is dismal--most of the research literature that I need to read is not available there. Many of the biology graduate students regularly visit the Utah State library to get their research done.

The recent holdbacks and budget reductions have had real substantive impacts on students and

    faculty. I get the feeling that the legislature and many state residents feel that there is too much "fat" and "inefficiency" in an institution like ISU and that an occasional budget reduction just makes it more "efficient." This is not true. In comparing ISU to many other colleges that I have attended, it is clear that this institution is chronically underfunded. A 10% budget reduction cuts into the meat, not fat.

    I have to ask myself, why establish a research university if you are not going to fund it adequately? My assessment of ISU as a self-proclaimed "research-intensive university", in comparison to other state universities, is that it is truly third-rate.

    A high-quality, productive university is a real asset to any community and state, both economically and culturally. This was very apparent to me when I lived in Tucson. The University of Arizona is extremely productive in many areas of education and research, bringing in high technology companies who

    benefit directly from the activities and graduates produced by the university. High quality, productive universities are not chronically underfunded with periodic drastic budget reductions.

    As a result of my disappointing experience here at ISU, I am seriously considering pursuing my

    education elsewhere.

    Deborah A. Johnson

    Phone: 208/478-9763

    Idaho 2020 Task Force Feedback Compiled Wednesday, November 06, 2002


    ? The following comments were sent via mail to 2020 Task Force member Louise Shadduck

    Here are some unstructured thoughts about taxation. One or another may be of some use in the

    current study, or to some group descendant from the small army now on assignment. When half

    this age, I tried with varying success to organize offsets, balances, designs etcetera. Time taught

    me that is of value only when you can exert a little power. I have none. My ego causes me to regret

    that Andrus for historic reasons and the modern Republican governors for what seem to be sheer

    partisan reasons never uh, consult me. In the late Fifties and the sixties, all for altruistic reasons,

    Charles McDevitt, George Crookham and I contributed importantly to tax philosophy in Idaho and

    the region. The grayness since the adoption of the sales tax in 1965 no small accomplishment if you note that in the time since Oregon and Montana haven’t managed a sales tax and our

    neighbors Washington and Nevada haven’t addressed income at the state level – prompts this

    letter. An overhaul in the near future would work wonders for Idaho.

Idaho has never become and will never be the state most of its founders envisioned. That is, by

    area most of the land will continue to be either publicly owned or owned by entities not culturally

    subject to an ad valorem or property tax. To continue to use property as the capital base for local

    school districts and entities other than municipal is irrational. This is not Kansas. Kansas could

    inherit its tax base from northern Europe. Idaho did but shouldn’t have. I think that means taxes

    of a transactional nature merit the most attention.

Not peculiar to Idaho, the concept of taxation as a form of exerting power and of punishment, as

    something that must “hurt,” is primitive. Without exciting any audience with the particulars, people

    can be honestly told that some taxes really hurt an individual or an enterprise; some don’t. A tax

    so small that none of the parties to an exchange can exactly tell who had to pay it the buyer,

    the seller, their agent, or a customer in the ensuing transaction tends to do little harm to society, none, or in the good use the revenue is put to, can help society. The largest example is the

    excise tax on liquor. The smallest example I can recall was, I believe, 1/10 of 1% on real-estate

    transactions during World War II. A tax stamp on deeds attested to its payment. When the war

    was over, most states including Idaho declined the invitation of the feds to adopt it as Uncle

    dropped it. I won’t swear to this but at least initially Oregon did assume the tax. If so, its history

    there would be of interest.

The rationales for Idaho state being the wholesaler and retailer of liquor are lost in history. Being

    old enough to remember them doesn’t mean I can defend them. If Idaho were to divest itself at

    least of the retail function with bottled goods, an immediate spurt of revenue from liquor tax would

    occur. In states where private industry sells booze, householders pick up liqueurs & oddments to

    have on hand in the event. In state-store communities, we wait till that particular guest is coming.

    From crème de menthe to tequila to vermouth to you name it, availability on the shelf at the

    supermarket would cause immediate stocking-up.

It is true that if the major-volume exemptions were removed from the sales tax statute, the rate

    could be lowered to, say, 3 per cent. But many of the exemptions exist because they violate the

    “punishment” caveat above – they would do so much harm as to drive transactions across the state

    border or seriously reduce economic activity. Note that most sales tax for interstate-exemption

    purposes are called sales-and-use taxes. As an extension of that principle, Washington state next

    door for example imposes “b & o” taxes – taxes on businesses and occupations’ revenues or

    certain of their revenues that are not subject to the sales tax per-se. Accountancy, law, a host of

    personal services and crafts, health and medical services, all should be examined as for their ability

    to sustain a small tax but an important one because their volume is so great now as compared to

    1965 when Idaho adopted the sales tax. Someone like Michael Ferguson might tell you the state

    economist but to oversimplify I’ve been told that in 1965 70% of net personal income was spent

    Idaho 2020 Task Force Feedback Compiled Wednesday, November 06, 2002

on goods and that today 70% is spent for services everything from the Internet to cable TV to

    yard maintenance to carpet cleaning is worth holding up to the light.

As a former public-utilities commissioner, I’m aware of the difference in exposure to taxes

    depending upon where you live and who owns the utilities you subscribe to water, electricity,

    natural and propane/butane gas, telephone, able, Internet, garbage disposal, sewer and even

    storm drain. Whether service is from a municipality, a co-op, a for-profit utility, a real-estate

    corporation, or some other entity can make quite a difference.

Listen to others to hear about anomalies. When I lived in Pocatello in the 1950’s, I rode to Pocatello

    with a man who filled his Mercedes from his home fuel-oil tank. No. 2 fuel oil, used in Pocatello,

    was identical to diesel. He thus paid no fuel tax to drive his car. While a legislator and after a

    debate in which coloring farm gasoline was proposed to reduce tax evasion, when I was visiting a

    fellow legislator in another county, he filled his pickup tank with tractor gas before we drove to town

    in the pickup. We were halfway there before he realized what he’d done in my presence.

Some citizens retirees, the underemployed, sometimes the young have more time than

    money. A revival of voluntarism would reduce government costs if an organized fashion such

    citizens would volunteer their services in health and child care, right-of-way maintenance, park

    patrol, et cetera. My personal preference would be that Uncle Sam restore citizenship awareness

    in the young by some universal national service in the tradition of the old CCC, the Peace Corps,

    and the like. But this seems not to be on the horizon and in its absence state and local

    government should fill the niche, and the civic muscle would be improved.

    Perry Swisher

    8660 Oakmont Dr., Boise 83704

    Phone: 208 376 3477

    Fax: 208 376 3588

    ? Problem

    The legislature has made many mandates over the course of decades. Some of these need to be

    carefully reassessed.

    1. That the state has to purchase insurance for state employees from a state based company. I

    personally know people who have the same insurance I do but from the private sector and it is less

    expensive and provides more coverage for a lower deductible.

    It only seems to me that getting the best coverage for the best price is the goal, not giving 1 Idaho

    company a monopoly on health care coverage.

    2. The current bid system just isn't working. In Corrections' for instance we found the chemical bid

    for the state increased our cost. I can search around in the community I work and find better prices.

    As a state employee and tax payer I am very conscience of the trust the people of Idaho have

    placed in me to be prudent with their money. And as most I am proud of the job I perform.

    Thank you for your time,

    Pamela Murray, Food Service Supervisor, Corr.

    Phone: 208-465-8490 ext. 22

    FAX: 208-465-8405

    Idaho 2020 Task Force Feedback Compiled Wednesday, November 06, 2002


? Suggestion

    I think that the State's privatization policy needs to be revisited. The State is paying a premium for

    work by consultants and contractors which could be performed in a more cost effective manner by

    State employees. A great deal of time and productivity of current state employees is lost to

    consultant administration, in effect our staff functions as a consultant support group to a degree.

    James M. Larson

    Phone: 208-772-1222


? Suggestion

    I think that the State's privatization policy needs to be revisited. The State is paying a premium for

    work by consultants and contractors which could be performed in a more cost effective manner by

    State employees. A great deal of time and productivity of current state employees is lost to

    consultant administration, in effect our staff functions as a consultant support group to a degree.

    James M. Larson

    Phone: 208-772-1222

? Suggestion

    In 1961 Idaho adopted the Uniform Unclaimed Property Law. At this time the State Tax

    Commission was given the responsibility to administer this law. Nationally Idaho is only one of nine

    states who administer the Unclaimed Property Law at a revenue agency. Thirty one states

    administer Unclaimed Property at the equivalent of Idaho’s State Treasurers office. The other 10

    states are varied from Indiana administering the law at the AG's office to North Dakota where it is

    administered at the Dept. of Lands.

    Suggestion: While the Tax Commission may be doing an adequate job in administering this law

    their main business process is to collect revenue. Perhaps another state agency might be better

    suited to find owners of unclaimed property.

    Steven Miller

    Phone: 334-7780

    FAX: 334-7650

    Idaho 2020 Task Force Feedback Compiled Wednesday, November 06, 2002



    ? Suggestion

    I work within a non-academic department at one of the state universities. I have worked at several universities in my career and want to suggest an operational model that is not being used at our institution that is costing the students a considerable amount of money and, at the same time, it is not providing us with needed revenues to keep up with maintenance and code issues. The model I would like to recommend is an auxiliary model where auxiliaries are allowed to charge for services that do not primarily benefit the students. Student fees currently provide us with our operational budget but due to the current model we are providing our services to academic and support departments meetings, events, and activities that don't benefit students directly. At the same time the university is not consistent regarding this policy of not allowing us to charge for our services. For instance, if the physical plant repairs something in our facility, we are charged for that service. At the same time, if the physical plant uses our facility for a meeting or an event, we are not able to charge for the space, labor or equipment that they use. The same holds true for our CIS department. Every time I need software downloaded or my computer repaired, our department is billed back $10.00 per hour for that service. Last year when I arrived I found that the facility that we are responsible for had an engineering survey completed and showed that our facilities need over $6 million in code and maintenance upgrades. This didn't address asthetic issues at all in a very dated building. At the Holiday break 2001, we projected that we would be providing the university with approximately $300,000 in free space usage for FY 2001 - 2002 and this did not take into consideration any overhead costs such as water, electricity, labor, and equipment costs. I would conservatively estimate that we gave away to agencies both on and off campus about $500,000 last year. This money would have provided our facility with enough money to make a dent in our code issues and allowed us to start building a reserve for "rainy days" which is currently non-existent. There are times where influential alumni and residents use their connections to take advantage of our facility space, labor and equipment. This places the burden on our students and is unfair. I recently left a university in another state where, through responsible stewardship and commitment to the students, the trend in rising student fees were reversed through the use of an auxiliary model. In 4 years the university went from student fees subsidizing 78% of our operational budget to 22%. This was at a time when universities nationally were looking at capping how much higher ed systems could raise student fees each year. The President at this university has openly stated that he will continue to ask for increases in student fees. I believe their are other solutions which I don't think have been explored such as providing more efficient administrative processes. I see that your board has a member from PeopleSoft and I know that PeopleSoft has implemented an

    administrative processing package at Boise State that may help. My previous university experience had been in the Midwest where PeopleSoft had convinced several state wide systems to purchase their software. It was an absolute nightmare. Timelines and promises were not met or kept. Lawsuits were pending as I left to move to Idaho. I would be curious as to how successful Boise State has been with the software. I would also recommend a more cohesive software and hardware purchasing process. Currently the individual employee is responsible for their own software and hardware purchases. Too often these purchases don't take into consideration other users and whether documents can be opened or not as e.mail attachments. Site licenses for universities and regular upgrades would eliminate these problems and save thousands of dollars if not more. The amount of paper we waste with dated printed forms and multipart forms is unimaginable and on-line processes would provide cost savings as well.

    I would ask that you keep these suggestions and complaints confidential as I have voiced my opinion previously and have been chastised for it. Helpful suggestions have not been well received by our administration and I want to avoid any repercussions.

    Idaho 2020 Task Force Feedback Compiled Wednesday, November 06, 2002

    ? Suggestion

    1) Provide that the Governor and Lt. Governor are elected on a ticket.

    2) Make the Attorney General and Superintendent of Public Instruction appointed positions.

3) Restructure the Land Board to include:


    Lt. Governor (ex-officio, non-voting except when Governor is not present)

    State Treasurer

    Secretary of State

    State Controller

    Superintendent of Public Instruction (ex-officio member)

    Attorney General (ex-officio member)


    ? The following comments were sent via e-mail to a 2020 Task Force support staff member Some of my ideas or concerns about the state and its situation are the following:

    Do not raise the sales tax rate. Many exemptions need to be modified or repealed. For example, the production exemption. Modify the hand tool portion by raising the limit from "under $100" to "under $250" to reflect the real price of hand tools. Too many people abuse the production exemption. If exemptions were cut back, the tax rate could actually be lowered.

    Repeal some of the permanent income tax cuts that the legislature enacted last year. What were they thinking?? Even the Wall Street Journal picked up on this by saying how could Idaho go from a nearly $300 million surplus to a $200 million deficit in one year?

    There are too many exemptions for too many groups that had the money to lobby the legislature. I'm sure we'll see some more exemptions come out of the next session also, even as we are cutting more in agency budgets.

    College funding needs to be increased. Double digit tuition increases for the last few years is devastating to the student. It's hard to graduate on time with reduced class offerings and having to work more hours in order to pay for tuition.

Thanks for taking time to read this.


    ? Suggestion

    I hope the committee is aware that many of the problems with the efficient functioning of Idaho's systems of support for people with disabilities have already been studied deeply and collaboratively.

    Reports from groups who have examined some of the big issues are available. These groups include The Community Integration Committee (examining what Idaho needs to do to comply with the US Supreme court decision in Olmstead v. L.C.), an Interagency Work Group on Idaho State School and Hospital (ISSH) and Alternatives, to name two. Since these reports are too long to paste into this message, I will try to e-mail them to a committee member or mail them to the committee.

    Idaho 2020 Task Force Feedback Compiled Wednesday, November 06, 2002

    Idaho has not overcome its traditional "institutional bias" completely in either its management of State institutions for people with disabilities or in its Medicaid program. It is by now universally recognized that home and community based services for people with all types of disabilities are less expensive and greatly preferred by people with disabilities (see President Bush's "New Freedom Initiative").

    Many states have closed their institutions for people with developmental disabilities and replaced them with safe, cost effective, community programs. ISSH costs about $23,000,000, per year to care for an average of about 110 people or about $209,000 per person per year. Given these funds to purchase 24 hour care in the community, very high level services could be individually designed and provided. In recent years almost all discharges from ISSH have been to community placements with services costing less than $100,000 per person per year. The current cost cap on the HCBS Waiver for people in ISSH is about $101,400 per person per year. Many more people could be discharged if community services could have a higher limit on costs (say $120,000). This would be enough for 24 hour coverage in a community setting. This has been recommended by every group to study the issue. However when a discharge is made the cost of running the facility does not go down. To fully realize the potential for savings with quality community services, changes must be made to the current Medicaid waivers and ISSH must be phased out.

    Community services for people with mental illness must be improved and this will require an investment. It will pay off in increased productivity, decreased hospitalization, increased employment and independence for many people with mental illnesses (see the Community Integration Committee report).

    Although Nursing homes are required to give residents the choice of home and community based services, Idaho could improve its enforcement of this requirement. Our experience shows that few people in nursing homes fully understand the range of services they could receive in their homes and Nursing homes are not giving this information to their residents in an effective way. IDHW should require nursing homes to make full disclosures to all of their residents and evaluate what services would allow them to move out of the facility. This activity should be enforced through the annual Medicaid survey process (New York has taken this path).


    IDHW's proposal to raise the eligibility level for the three largest HCBS waivers is the opposite of sound planning. Raising the eligibility level for the DD Waiver would exclude people whose independent living skills are similar to those of a six to eight year old child. This is intended to exclude 200 people with Developmental Disabilities (DD)from the waiver. Most of these people live in Certified Family Homes (CFH) and the waiver now pays for their placement. If the proposal is implemented many of these people will become homeless. They will be ineligible for ICF/MR facilities and they will have no alternative placements. Other who receive their waiver services in an apartment setting will be left unattended most of the day. If a parent of a 6-8 year old left them unattended, they would likely be prosecuted. These adults are equally vulnerable.

    The proposal to remove 800 people from the Aged and Disabled (A&D) waiver is similar. Many of these people are also living in the homes of their providers (CFH) and will lose their homes when they become ineligible. All of these people were certified to be in need of nursing home care. Those who receive these services in their own homes will also be without assistance. Some of these people cannot get out of bed or go to the bathroom without these services. About 30% of them will lose their Medicaid coverage entirely and will not have coverage for medical care, prescription drugs, or hospitalization (which will surely follow for some). This burden will fall to the county indigent program if it is addressed at all. The risk that some people will die in the wake of this fiasco is high. Many of the people involved have no family to help them.

    Idaho 2020 Task Force Feedback Compiled Wednesday, November 06, 2002

    James R. Baugh

    Phone: 336-5353

    FAX: 336-5396


? Suggestion

    Eliminate, or significantly reduce Capitol Mall Security and task the Idaho State Police with

    providing security at the Capitol Mall Complex.

    ISP could hire retired officers, part-time and without providing costly benefits (because retired

    officers already have benefits), to provide security and law enforcement services in and around the

    Complex. Part-time officers would have limited law enforcement authority and could actually

    enforce laws and provide protection for State Employees, elected officials, and citizens as they

    conduct business.

    While CMS does an outstanding job, there may be opportunities for cost-savings.


? Suggestion

    Question: When we are trying to cut costs, why is it necessary (other then to follow State contracts),

    that we continue to print general brochures, forms and booklets through vendors when some of us

    have small onsite copy centers? Also, is it necessary to print in color? Other then for 'looks', what

    value does it have on the information that is being provided?

? Suggestion

    Task Governor with adopting an Official State Neck Tie each year to be presented to elected

    officials and dignitaries.

Idaho 2020 Task Force Feedback Compiled Wednesday, November 06, 2002

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