The House has voted 64-1 in favor of HB 379, Rep. Lynn Luker’s bill to eliminate the tax return checkoff that lets taxpayers send $1 of their taxes to the political party of their choice. “Unlike any other checkoff, this particular checkoff comes out of general funds,” Luker, R-Boise, told the House. “It’s a relatively small amount, but it’s still an amount that we need to retain. I guess you could look at it, it would keep another teacher on staff somewhere in the state, so we need to find money everywhere we can right now.” This past year, the checkoff brought in $34,320, with Democrats collecting slightly more than Republicans.
House Minority Leader John Rusche, D-Lewiston, told the House, “I’m really torn by this bill. There are so few opportunities for individuals … to have impact in the political process. Nonetheless … this is money that comes out of the general fund. I would hope that if we have another opportunity to preserve and protect the ability of Idaho citizens to participate in the political process without affecting the general fund, that we seize that opportunity.” Rep. Phylis King, D-Boise, already has announced she plans to introduce such a bill, allowing taxpayers to donate from their refunds, and House State Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Loertscher, R-Iona, has said he’d give King’s bill a print hearing. In the House vote on Luker’s bill, Rep. Donna Pence, D-Gooding, cast the only dissenting vote. The bill now moves to the Senate.