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Eye On Boise

Thu., Jan. 31, 2008, 3:41 p.m.

Mayors want local-option tax bill considered

Mayors from around the state gathered in a big clump after the Association of Idaho Cities legislative luncheon today, and joined transportation advocates to speak out for consideration of legislation to allow local-option taxes to fund transportation improvements, from roads to transit. The bill is being held up, they said, because some in House GOP leadership are insisting on a constitutional amendment instead – even though that would require an unlikely two-thirds vote of both houses plus a vote at the next general election, holding the whole process up at least a year. Idaho already has some local-option taxes that have been upheld in court, the mayors noted, such as resort-city taxes and county jail taxes, and they said there’s no constitutional issue with their bill.

“If you delay it by one year … think what one year’s inflation cost is going to mean to communities around the state,” said Twin Falls Mayor Lance Clow. Rexburg Mayor Shawn Larsen said, “We just want to get this out to the citizens … and not just hold it up in committee where it doesn’t see the light of day.”

Caldwell Mayor Garret Nancolas said, “This is all about taking this back to the citizens, letting them have a choice. Right now we can’t even give ‘em a choice.” Said Nampa Mayor Tom Dale, “We need to trust the voters.”

The measure, backed by a statewide coalition calling itself “Moving Idaho Forward,” would require a two-thirds supermajority vote to impose local-option taxes to fund transportation needs identified by local communities. Said Larsen, the Rexburg mayor, “This is about letting the people decide. … If they don’t want it, it’s not going to pass by a 66-2/3 majority.”

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Eye On Boise

Short takes and breaking news from the Idaho Legislature and the state capital.