Rigged to Fail

Report Card: Idaho Policies are Failing Working Families

Raising the wage and protecting child support are critical steps in helping workers move from barely surviving to thriving.

BOISE — A healthy, thriving environment that allows workers to move beyond living paycheck-to-paycheck is good for families, good for business, good for the community, and good for the economy.

Unfortunately, in Idaho, state policies too often seem rigged against workers and their families, preventing people from getting ahead no matter how hard they struggle. Low wages, a lack of good-paying jobs, inequitable tax systems, sky-rocketing education costs and debilitating debt especially impact low-income families.

A new report card, “Rigged to Fail: When state policies suppress workers’ ability to make ends meet,” released today by Idaho Community Action Network, gives Idaho an “F” when it comes to passing policies that help workers and their families get ahead. Here is a copy of the report.

“It takes two minimum wage jobs for a single adult just to put food on the table. More industries are being driven into the minimum wage pay scale. Take for example, health care workers. The folks that take care of our senior family members are struggling to eat and stay healthy themselves. It’s well overdue that the legislature takes action and raises the wage.” said Aaron White, president of the AFL-CIO.

In addition to low wages in Idaho, this report card also grades family supports including child support payments. According to Representative John Rusche in a statement:

“We have less than 60 days to fix this error and join the rest of the country in these standard support payment rules. If we do not, we lose $46 million in federal money, have to lay off over 100 child support workers, and endanger the more than $200,000,000 in payments to 155,000 kids now receiving parental support through the system. This is not about international autonomy, sovereignty, or “Sharia law.” It is not about welfare payments — these are private child support payments. It is about the lives and welfare of Idaho families, and continuing to use a system that makes child support enforcement possible.”

“Rigged to Fail” was produced by the national Alliance for a Just Society as part of the Job Gap Economic Prosperity series. The report card grades Idaho on 25 indicators across three categories: Jobs and Wages, Debt and Taxes, and Supports for Working Families, measuring how well we could be doing at supporting working families.

Idaho failed in all three categories. Particularly troubling:

  • Most women working full time don’t earn enough to make ends meet
  • The state doesn’t limit hospital charges, billing and collections for low-income families
  • The state doesn’t offer a child care tax credit
  • Legislators refuse to cap payday loan interest rates

“Our state needs to create an environment where all workers can succeed. When we consider true Idaho values we will have better health outcomes, better educational outcomes, less hunger, less physical stress, less addiction, less crime, less violence to women and children, and an increased trust in our society. Idaho needs to raise our minimum wage.” said Anne Nesse from Raise Idaho.

“Increasing Idaho’s minimum wage is one subject area where we can’t afford to fail — it is the key to moving working families from simply surviving to thriving. It’s time for our state to invest in all families.” said Representative Sue Chew.

With over 2,000 members statewide, Idaho Community Action Network (ICAN) educates and advocates on issues of social, racial, and economic justice and to eliminate poverty in Idaho. Our members speak with a united voice on issues that directly impact their lives.

The Alliance for a Just Society is a national policy, research and organizing network focused on racial and economic justice. The Alliance has produced pivotal reports for 20 years on state and national health issues.

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