The House State Affairs Committee has voted 16-1 in favor of HB 379, the proposal from Rep. Lynn Luker, R-Boise, to do away with the tax form check-off through which Idaho taxpayers can donate $1 to the political party of their choice, without paying any more in taxes. Rep. Phylis King, D-Boise, who opposed the bill when it was introduced, said, "I think I need to eat some crow here." She said she's realized her error and now supports the bill - but added that she has another one drafted to add a new, voluntary checkoff for parties that taxpayers would pay for from their own funds, rather than the state's. Chairman Tom Loertscher, R-Iona, said he'll give King's bill a print hearing.
Rep. Mary Lou Shepherd, D-Prichard, said she voted to introduce the bill simply because she considers that "the polite and cordial thing to do" when another committee member proposes a bill, but said that after looking into it, she strongly supports it. "We have to look for every possible dollar to go into our general fund in this economy," Shepherd said. "It may be a small amount, it may be a large amount, but even small amounts add up."
The checkoff doesn't raise much - only about $34,000 last year between all parties. Until 2006, Republicans got more money from the checkoff, but since then, Democrats have had the edge. Eric Makrush of the Idaho Freedom Foundation testified in favor of the bill, saying his organization wants to "educate regarding any policy matters that are an affront to the free market and the proper role of government." He said, "We need to make sure that these monies are diverted to state agencies as appropriate. From our end, this is a good public policy to make this change." The bill now heads to the full House for a vote.