Idaho paper slams GOP state lawmakers for failing to take COVID seriously — and costing taxpayers a fortune

Idaho paper slams GOP state lawmakers for failing to take COVID seriously — and costing taxpayers a fortune

The Idaho Statesman's editorial board, in a blistering editorial published on April 5, forcefully urges lawmakers in the state legislature to wear face masks — stressing that it will be costly to taxpayers if they get sick unnecessarily. In mid-March, six members of the Idaho House of Representatives tested positive for COVID-19.

"We now know how much the Idaho Legislature's COVID-19-induced recess is going to cost us taxpayers," the Statesman's editorial board explains. "As Hayat Norimine of the Idaho Statesman reported last week, the session's delay will have lasted more than two weeks by the time legislators are scheduled to return on Tuesday and will cost a total of about $318,000."

The Stateman's editorial board continues, "State legislators are still getting paid for living expenses for days they're on break on top of their regular salaries for the session. And session staffers, who remain in the Statehouse for another two weeks, will get compensated to continue their work."

In its editorial, the Statesman goes on to chastise Republicans in the Idaho State Legislature who failed to follow the COVID-19 guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — thus getting sick and costing Idaho taxpayers money.

"Maybe if legislators knew that they'd have to pay their own expenses if they went into a recess because of a COVID-19 outbreak, they would have followed CDC health guidelines and worn masks and practiced social distancing," the Statesman's editorial board emphasizes. "But they didn't do that. They went right on as if we weren't in a pandemic, milling about without masks, eschewing social distancing, shaking hands, hugging."

The Statesman's editorial board also points the finger at specific Republicans in the Idaho House of Representatives who have downplayed the severity of COVID-19, including Rep. Heather Scott and Rep. Vito Barbieri.

"It finally caught up with legislators by the week of March 15, when six House members tested positive for COVID-19," the Stateman's editorial board notes. "Who knows how many others have it or had it?.... We hope that no one dies from COVID-19 because of legislators' carelessness. And if they're not motivated by protecting their health and the health of others, perhaps they'd be motivated by their pocketbooks."

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