The House debate on the tax reform plan is still going – and going. To listen in live, go to www.idahoptv.org. Among the highlights so far:
Rep. George Sayler, D-Coeur d’Alene, said, “It would be politically expedient for me to vote yes – it would probably ensure my re-election. But I cannot in good conscience vote for property tax relief that requires someone to pay for it every time they sit down for breakfast, lunch or dinner … especially when we could have provided the same relief without raising sales tax.” He added, “For me, this program represents a transfer of wealth from the less well-off to the better-off. It would be a failure of leadership for me to support this policy.”
Rep. JoAn Wood, R-Rigby, speaking in favor of the bill, said she may be forced to sell her “little 90-acre farm” because of taxes, water fees and other costs. “I really struggle,” Wood said, with the idea of giving “more relief to homeowners… and not to the little 90-acre farm.”
House Tax Chair Dolores Crow, R-Nampa, said the bill promises “immediate, meaningful, and permanent tax relief.”
Rep. Nicole LeFavour, D-Boise, was gaveled down by House Speaker Bruce Newcomb and cautioned to be respectful of the governor in her remarks, after she made reference to upcoming elections and the governor’s short-term status. She called the special session “not the most stirring moment in our Democratic process.”
Rep. Phil Hart, R-Athol, told the House, “The property tax is a mandatory tax, and the sales tax is a voluntary tax - you don’t have to pay unless you choose to spend your money.” Idaho does, however, charge its sales tax on food.
House Assistant Majority Leader Mike Moyle, R-Star, argued that the governor’s bill eliminates the one major property tax levy in Idaho that’s directly tied to escalating property values. “Is it really fair that because somebody moves in next to you and values go up, that you get taxed out of your home? I think not,” he said. “It’s vital that we do something, and we do it soon, because citizens are going to pay the price – and they shouldn’t have to pay that price because someone moved in next to them.”