Gov. Butch Otter has vetoed the grocery tax relief bill that lawmakers in both houses earlier passed by overwhelming majorities. “It’s the wrong thing to do,” Otter told The Spokesman-Review. “It spends $11 million more than we wanted to.” He said “the most obvious and glaring” objection he had, though, was, “It doesn’t really get that tax relief to the people that really need it.”
The legislation would have raised the annual grocery tax credit for all Idahoans from the current $20 a year to $40, and from the current $35 for seniors to $60, with an annual price tag of about $32 million. Otter has been holding out for his own targeted plan instead, which would give a break of up to $90 a year for the lowest-income Idahoans, but would phase out as incomes rise. Middle- and higher-income Idahoans would lose their current credit; the total cost to the state would be $22 million. But he acknowledged that based on their earlier votes, lawmakers could easily override his veto. “That’s their prerogative,” the governor said.
House Speaker Lawerence Denney said, “I think we have to take action.” He noted, “Certainly it passed by large majorities up here.” Senate President Pro Tem Bob Geddes said, “I don’t know what we’re going to do.” Both Senate Republicans and Senate Democrats plan to caucus this afternoon on the issue. “We might look at the option of lowering the impact a little,” Geddes said. “We could let it sit there. Or perhaps the caucus will want us to look at override.” Read my full story here at spokesmanreview.com.