Not So Fast

| April 03, 2013

When I first sat down to write this column, I was going to make some crack about how the Legislature was going to "sine die" with a whimper, not a bang (and thus mangle T.S. Eliot). But right there at the last minute, the Senate decided to scuttle the $1.3 billion schools budget--the first time that's happened since 1992--because Senate Ed Chair John Goedde, a Coeur d'Alene Republican, thought his committee and its counterpart in the House had been sidestepped and left without enough time to eliminate, reduce or otherwise redirect bonus pay for teachers and technology grants.

This, despite the fact that the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee approved it 15-5 and the House passed it 52-16. (Looking at the breakdown of votes in the Senate, the "nays" might as well have been called "Team Luna," if that tells you anything.)

By the time this publishes on Wednesday, April 3, the Legislature may or may not have adjourned, and all because--it looks to me--like some key backers of the voter-defeated "Luna Laws" education reform package are using a spat over committee turf to squeeze some sour grapes. Suffice to say, the session will not have died with a whimper.

And speaking of turf, don't miss BW reporter Andrew Crisp's feature "Price of Place" on Page 10.

Residents and visitors alike wax eloquent about the "majesty of Idaho's outdoors," and there's practically a subgenre of American magazine writing focused on how amenities like the Greenbelt and Foothills make "Boise one of the most livable cities in America." Which is all great, but do we actually know how much those open spaces are worth? In dollars?

Crisp's piece takes a fascinating look at the economics of public access and, by unearthing an obscure undergraduate study, puts an actual cash value on the Boise Foothills that will surprise you.

As politicians, particularly in Idaho, continue to push for opening--and therefore essentially transferring--more public lands to private (business) use, "Price of Place" is a powerful reminder that the "nothing" that occupies land can be just as valuable, and more financially stable, as the "something" we want to put there to turn a buck.

Side note: BW mistakenly reported March 27 that Lululemon had closed its Boise location. The business is still open, and we regret the error.

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