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Party-line vote kills Dems’ alternative

The Democrats' alternative proposal - to bring in $37.2 million more in state revenues through a series of steps and add that to next year's school budget - has failed on a 4-14 party-line vote. The original motion for the operations division then passed 15-4, also on a party-line vote. In the debate, Rep. Wendy Jaquet, D-Ketchum, said, "I think every amount we can send will help. What I'm fearful about are the property tax issues. ... When we talk about being bound to no increased revenues, I think we need to remember what's going to happen in our local areas." Said Sen. Diane Bilyeu, D-Pocatello, "We are basically balancing our state budget on the backs of our kids, and that is wrong."

Sen. Janice McGeachin, R-Idaho Falls, said she doesn't understand "this desire to increase taxes on Idahoans who are struggling to buy food and pay for health care. But this discussion really doesn't belong in this committee." Ideas for raising state revenues should be considered only in the Legislature's tax committees, she said. Rep. Darrell Bolz, R-Caldwell, said all areas of the state budget are hurting, and though he supports public schools, it's not appropriate to talk about a tax hike just for them. Sen. Jim Hammond, R-Post Falls, said, "I'm encouraged that what we're doing will help to grow us out of this economic doldrum ... because of how we manage our budget and how we manage our governments."

Rep. Frank Henderson, R-Post Falls, said, "We are at a time when we need every idea we can put on the table to consider." But he agreed with McGeachin that JFAC isn't the right committee to consider tax increase proposals. He also questioned whether some of the moves the Democrats proposed would really bring the money in in time to balance next year's budget.

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Eye On Boise

News, happenings and more from the Idaho Legislature and the state capital.