Governor Brad Little has introduced a proposal to increase funding for programs that promote diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) by 21%. Thanks to increased salaries and funding for projects within the Idaho Commission on Hispanic Affairs, these insidious initiatives are allowed to thrive in what many would traditionally perceive as a conservative state government. With DEI policies tearing our nation apart, Idaho cannot afford to allow the gradual expansion of these left-wing programs.
Overall, the commission resembles that of a government-sponsored lobby group for social justice initiatives in education, health and trade. The $418,000 budget funds the salaries of three full-time staff, while additional operations and events are supported by private donations. Governor Little’s budget increase for this year would give commission staffers a 5% pay raise and expand the agency.
One would expect such a small bureaucratic organization to have no real influence on statewide politics. However, this is not the case.
The Hispanic Commission’s 2021 Strategic Plan clearly outlines its primary goal of promoting “economic, educational, and social equity” for Hispanic residents statewide. To achieve these goals, the commission partners with the lobbying arms of other state agencies to influence public policy. In fact, commission members note that their success depends on their ability to change institutional practices “by partnering with government agencies to ensure equity and access to culturally appropriate programs and services; reviewing the policies, practices, and procedures of state agencies; and making recommendations that will improve the delivery of state services and resources.
Building on agency-focused policy change, the composition of the state’s voters is receiving strategic attention from the commission. Near the end of its strategic plan, the commission outlines initiatives to collect voting data on Hispanics in Idaho, strengthen opportunities for immigrants to become citizens, and increase voter registration for particular groups in Idaho. hope to leverage social justice initiatives at the ballot box.
The problem with reorienting public policies to focus on a specific minority group is that they constitute a small sample of a population suffering from a larger problem. For example, Hispanics make up only 12% of Idaho’s total unemployed in the state, so policy initiatives that focus on this group blatantly ignore the remaining 88% of unemployed residents (including including non-Hispanic minorities). Thus, the members of the commission effectively ignore the root of the problem and only work to solve its symptoms.
Under the governor’s 2023 budget proposal, the “solutions” the commission is producing are just redundant spending. His goals are to close the achievement gap in education and improve access to and use of health care, but the governor has previously proposed increasing state contributions to education initiatives. education of over $2.6 billion. It is also asking for $186 million to address issues around “social and behavioral determinants of health” and access to health care.
The only part of the Hispanic Commission’s strategic plan that the governor did not address is increasing the purchasing power of Hispanics, which is defined as a household’s after-tax income. Repealing the food tax or rewriting the property tax formula would accomplish this goal by helping all Idahoans. However, these solutions are absent in the face of pressure from the commission for affirmative action-type rights policies and programs.
It’s time for the Idaho Legislature to fund the Hispanic Commission and its social justice initiatives, rather than spur them on.
Cutting funding to agencies like the Hispanic Commission would be a start toward removing the racial lens through which our executive agencies view policy administration. Through this lens, the government considers an entire group of Idahoans based on superficial characteristics, then subjects them to special study and complacency in response.
Building a more prosperous Idaho will always require the removal of big government programs that only suit political goals and exacerbate the problems voters face. Funding the Hispanic Affairs Commission is a good start to curbing the pervasive and toxic ideology of the DEI in policy making.