Kevin Richert, editorial page editor of the Idaho Statesman, had this to say in his weekly column on Sunday. (I'm repeating it all here since the Statesman only leaves stories up for two weeks.)
On Monday, the Department of Commerce and Labor told us something we already knew:
The Treasure Valley is growing — rapidly.
According to the latest U.S. Census Bureau numbers, 22,499 newcomers moved to the Boise-Nampa metropolitan area between 2005 and 2006.
During that same period of time, Idaho's overall population grew by 37,098.
So let's do the math, because it is startling. Slightly more than 60 percent of Idaho's population increase — growth that, in turn, directly influences state income and sales tax collections — occurred in this one corner of the state. The public policy imperative could not be more clear. The state has a direct financial stake in the Valley's continued growth, and in helping the Valley's local governments keep up with the demands of growth.
When rural legislators refuse to budge to help on Valley issues such as community colleges, local-option taxes for transit or highway construction, they aren't just exercising petty parochialism. They are punishing the part of the state that shoulders an increasing share of the load to pay for public schools and Medicaid services all over the state. That is simply foolish public policy.
I wish the Valley population numbers had come out during the disappointing and just-completed legislative session.
Then again, I'm not sure some legislators would have been persuaded.