THUMBS UP: To U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo for putting his mouth where the money is, beating the drums on behalf of a balanced budget amendment. Since 1995, according to The Lewiston Tribune, total federal outlays have amounted to $52.6 trillion, or $8.7 trillion more than receipts. When off-budget borrowing and war spending is added, the national debt supporting fiscal activity has almost quadrupled to $18.5 trillion.
Crapo, who sits on the Senate Budget Committee, now says he is confident Republican leaders will bring the balanced budget up for a vote during this session of Congress. However, “I don’t have a high level of confidence we can get it over the top — at least on the first try,” Crapo said.
THUMBS UP: To last-minute passage in the state Legislature of a $95 million transportation funding package that raises fuel taxes and vehicle registration fees for the first time since 1996. Trouble is, the compromise legislation covers only about one-third of the $262 million annual maintenance shortfall on roads and bridges. Some conservatives opposed even that amount, even though the taxes will help preserve roads and won’t affect you if you don’t drive a vehicle.
THUMBS UP: To Nampa, Idaho, native Dan Price, who stunned his workforce at Seattle-based Gravity Payments by announcing his 120 employees would each receive, over the next three years, pay increases up to $70,000 per year. Price said he would pay for the raises from his own profitable salary.
Price started the company, which processed $6.5 billion in transactions for more than 12,000 businesses last year, in his dorm room at Seattle Pacific University.
THUMBS DOWN: To Florida postal worker Doug Hughes, 61, who said his hare-brained flight of a gyrocopter onto the U.S. Capitol lawn was intended to call attention to his belief that campaign finance laws are too weak. He’s lucky the small aircraft wasn’t shot down before it landed about half a city block from the Capitol Building. He could be right, though, that the laws are feeble.
THUMBS UP OR DOWN?: To New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who is determined to prove he is not the presidential campaign afterthought that some perceive. In meet-and-greets, a major policy speech and more this week in New Hampshire, the likely Republican contender has worked to demonstrate what his supporters have been saying: He can communicate with everyday workers in ways that others cannot. Christie, trying to live down the “bridgegate” scandal, was trying to replicate the formula that made him famous in New Jersey. His first in a series of New Hampshire town halls looked much like the 134 he has held at home as governor, complete with a theater-in-the round setup and the governor answering from a mostly friendly, standing-room-only crowd. He was against the normalization of relations with Cuba and the emerging nuclear pact with Iran and more.
THUMBS UP: To employment numbers in Idaho, which showed the jobless rate fell to 3.8 percent in March with 5,400 workers finding jobs in the largest one-month increase on record. Idaho also set a record by going above 757,000 people employed for the first time.
The agency says unemployment remained at a seven-year low as businesses expanded payrolls. During the last year, Idaho employers have added nearly 20,000 workers.
THUMBS UP: To Gov. Butch Otter, who says he will take action to address the potential collapse of Idaho’s child support system, but he is not ready to call lawmakers back for a special session. What then?
“It’s going to be a very deliberative and engaging process with all stakeholders,” he said.
The federal government has warned Idaho it will pull all federal funding and child support enforcement tools from the state in 60 days; Idaho Health and Welfare officials say that would effectively dismantle the child support system.