House and Senate Democratic leaders Rep. Wendy Jaquet and Sen. Clint Stennett joined other Democrats at a press conference at the Boise Train Depot on the eve of the special session of the Legislature, and vowed to try to get their own tax reform bill introduced or to change Gov. Jim Risch’s bill during the one-day special session. “We have combed through the Constitution and the law,” Stennett said. “We’ll make every effort.” Asked if Democrats have enough votes in the Senate to block the two-thirds vote needed to suspend rules, Stennett said, “I’ve made a few calls.” Sen. Elliot Werk, D-Boise, said Democrats also want changes in the advisory ballot language that Risch has proposed, “to be straightforward without these kinds of leading statements.”
The proposed ballot measure now reads: “Should the State of Idaho keep the property tax relief adopted in August 2006, reducing property taxes by approximately $260 million and protecting funding for public schools by keeping the sales tax at 6%?”
Rep. Mike Mitchell, D-Lewiston, said he’s prepared two proposed amendments to the Risch tax bill, one to substantially increase the grocery tax credit and the other to take the sales tax off food. “I think these are two issues that might have been discussed, had we had an open process,” he said.
Jaquet called Risch’s bill “a temporary fix from a temporary governor,” and said, “We passionately feel that our bill is a better bill for the homeowner.”
But Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brady alluded to the big catch to all the Democratic plotting – Republicans control the Legislature with a huge supermajority, and hold every statewide elected office in Idaho except for superintendent of schools. “We need to take back the Statehouse so that we have a chance to have real debate to represent the people,” Brady said.