By Dorothy Moon
The Republican Party cherishes the principles of fiscal conservatism. We believe in keeping government as small as possible, keeping spending as low as possible and keeping as much money as possible in the hands of the people who earned it.
Idaho has traditionally been a red state, which makes it all the more frustrating that our state budget has so drastically increased in the past few years. Last year, lawmakers appropriated more than $14 billion to various state programs. They can boast about keeping taxes relatively low only because they take so much from the federal government.
Idaho Republicans hold financial responsibility and transparency in high regard and our national counterparts should do so as well. Two events this week demonstrated how important these principles are.
This year, the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee (JFAC) changed the way it crafts state agency budgets. Rather than creating one single take-it-or-leave-it budget for each department, the committee split them into two: a maintenance budget based on what they spent last year, and an addendum based on what the department has requested. Basically, JFAC divided the “needs” from the “wants.”
This was a great move for conservatism and transparency. Legislators could vote to keep the lights on and the doors open in our government while having a serious debate about how much spending should increase.
It seems obvious, but some tried to undo all the hard work toward fiscal conservatism by introducing new budgets that once again combined the needs and the wants. The House passed the first of ten maintenance budgets on Wednesday, but the battle continues.
The fact that it is a battle at all speaks to how far we’ve strayed from our fiscally conservative principles. The same battle is playing out at the national level as well. Last week I attended the Republican National Committee Winter Meeting in Las Vegas and saw firsthand the excessive spending habits of some of our RNC leadership. Rather than spending money on get-out-the-vote campaigns and mobilizing the grassroots, the RNC has bloated administrative salaries and hired expensive consultants.
We learned this week that Ronna McDaniel, in her fourth term as chairwoman of the RNC, is rumored to soon be stepping down. Hopefully the next leader of the national Republican party can restore confidence that the RNC will spend donor money wisely in pursuit of political victories rather than lavish indulgence.
It is clear that the grassroots want financial responsibility. Whether at the state level or the national level, we have an imperative to maintain lean and efficient operations.
The principles of conservatism go beyond mere rhetoric; they represent a fundamental belief in responsible governance. Republicans understand that every taxpayer dollar — every penny — must be spent wisely, prioritizing the services that are truly essential while avoiding unnecessary bloat. This commitment to efficiency and accountability will resonate with voters who expect their representatives to be prudent stewards of the public trust. People will be more inclined to throw their chips in if they believe there is a genuine commitment to utilizing donor and taxpayer resources responsibly.