Woodward is Completely Disconnected From the People
by Shari Dovale
Idaho State Senator Jim Woodward first took office in 2018. He ran unopposed for reelection in the 2020 primary and easily defeated his Democrat opponent in the General election. That was probably why he didn’t feel the need to campaign so much. When you are practically guaranteed the election, you don’t need to spend time talking to the voters.
As the heir apparent to Sen. Shawn Keough, a lot was taken for granted. Questions were not asked, surveys were not filled out. Everyone seemed to assume that Woodward would be a similar counterpart of the long-serving lawmaker.
The major difference to the current Senator and the previous politician is the constituents they have helped. It was well known that, though she voted left of center on most issues in this red, conservative state, Keough was famous for helping her constituents. You couldn’t hardly throw a stick without finding someone telling a story about how she helped their family.
Since he has taken office, Woodward has done little to distinguish himself. He is almost never seen at community events. He does not attend local political meetings, or speaks at local functions. I am told that folks cannot even find him at the county fair.
He has joined Rep. Sage Dixon at townhalls on one or two occasions during the legislative session. That is about the only place you will find Senator Woodward. Yet, by his own admission, he travels home every weekend.
To travel home every weekend from Boise to northern Idaho can get very expensive, or can it? It is said that the job of a lawmaker is thankless and poorly compensated. Let’s examine that issue.
The standard legislative session is 75 days. The session can run longer, and there are also days when lawmakers need to be in Boise for other duties. Keeping that in mind, let’s take a look:
The base salary for an elected member of the House and Senate is $18,619.00 per year. The Legislative leadership receives additional compensation to that base salary, between $2,000 – $5,000.
In addition to this, any legislator that lives more than 50 miles from the Capital is compensated $139.00 per day. This is called ‘per diem’ and is allotted for each day they are in session, a minimum of 75 days. This calculates to be a minimum of $10,425.00. This money is not taxable. If a legislator lives within 50 miles, they are compensated $71.00 per day, and it IS taxable.
Plus, each legislator is given full reimbursement for the expenses they incur to travel home EACH WEEKEND. Yes, if they decide to fly home, rent a car, go out to dinner each night, stay in a hotel, etc, then they just need to turn their receipts in and they will have full reimbursements from the taxpayers every single week of session.
Further, each legislator receives full reimbursement for all expenses incurred during the off season, if they are doing legislative work. This includes any trips to Boise to attend committee meetings. These expenses are not coming from the legislator’s pocket. It is all funded by the taxpayers.
Add to that, they receive a constituent service payment, which, for anyone with a small district is $2500, and it goes up accordingly per size of the district. Woodward receives an estimated $2900.00 in November as a flat payment for his annual expenses to travel through the district. Woodward is not required to account for his use of this money.
And, of course, there are more extras, as they receive medical insurance payments, life insurance payments, PERSI retirement payments, and any other perks offered.
Much of these funds are not taxed, and not accounted for.
Campaign funds – If this does not seem like enough to live on during the 75 days of session, the elected legislators also have access to their campaign funds to supplement their income. They continue to receive money, and have to report those donations. However, they are allowed to use that money to supplement their living expenses as a legitimate campaign expense.
If you go to the Sunshine reports, you will see a lot of big money donations to Senator Woodward’s campaign.
Added funds could come for many elected legislators, like Sen. Woodward, who are given additional compensating positions on various boards. Woodward currently sits on the boards of Northern Lights (NLI) and Idaho Consumer Owned Utilities Association.
As we can see, the base salary that everyone calls small at over $18,000 per year goes up dramatically to well over $30,000 per year when you add in all of the many extras.
What is significant is that Sen. Woodward receives nearly $3,000 each year to spend time in the community, visiting with the taxpayers, answering questions of the voters, etc. Yet he does not bother to connect with the people in his district. Actually, Senator Woodward has shown a decided disconnect from all of the people he represents. He does not see the obstacles they face. He cannot relate to their issues.
As you can see in the short video above, Woodward does not understand the challenges with which his constituents are dealing. His gauge of government seems to be only how he is doing, not how the people are doing.
He sends out the same tired newsletter that so many disinterested lawmakers send, by way of the legislative services office. He hasn’t even bothered to update his website since his first campaign. There is no list of bills that he has sponsored, or any place to find his accomplishments while in office. That probably means that there is no such list.
I find it difficult to be upset with someone that seems so detached from the realities of the people he represents. I do, however, find it sad. It is time to tell him that he does not belong in Boise. He should go back to his construction business and be happy in his isolated existence.
Latest Townhall with Sen. Woodward and Rep. Dixon
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