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Copyright © 2003 Express Publishing Inc.
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Wednesday, July 28, 2004


Donít send Idaho jobs overseas

Guest opinion by SEN. CLINT STENNETT

State Sen. Clint Stennett, D-Ketchum, is Senate Minority Leader, and Rep. Wendy Jaquet, D-Ketchum, is House Minority Leader.

Sen. Stennett can be reached at 726-8106 or fax at 788-4504 or e-mail clintstennett@earthlink.net. Rep. Jaquet can be reached at 726-3100 or fax at 726-0674 or e-mail wjaquet@sunvalley.net

It is disturbing that part of the work managing Idaho's food stamp program is being subcontracted to a company in India.

An Associated Press story recently reported the fact that Idahoans who have questions about their food stamp debit-style cards, call in to an automated system which if unable to answer, directs these calls overseas. According to the story the system fields about 150,000 calls per month and about 1,100 are sent to the call center in India.

The volume of business may not sound large but the problem exists not only in Idaho but throughout the nation. A number of states contract with J.P. Morgan Chase in New York, as cited in a report by Good Jobs First, a group advocating for higher-paying jobs in America. The report reveals that food stamp programs aren't the only offshore contracts. Others exist in computer technology assistance and software development.

This begs the question why, in these times of high unemployment in our state, do we send these jobs overseas? Our governor has promoted jobs in Idaho and throughout his administration has advocated the need to stimulate our economy and reduce the unemployment rate. It is insulting that we are using state tax money to send jobs overseas at the expense of our local economy. The practice of allowing state government agencies to contract with out of state companies who then sub-contract their work out of the country needs to be revisited and explored in depth.

The loss of many manufacturing jobs could be replaced with jobs in call centers and information technology. Idaho needs these jobs. We have the ability to make changes in the way Idaho does its business. We can and should be looking into ways to ensure that Idahoans have every opportunity to live and work in Idaho. We would consider introducing legislation to accomplish that goal. We have a work force that is willing, able and available. Let's make sure that we keep those workers here.


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The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.