Eye On Boise

Bedke: 'No clear consensus' on road funding, 'hard choices' on spending

House Speaker Scott Bedke addresses the Associated Taxpayers of Idaho on Wednesday, along with House Minority Leader John Rusche; at left is Doreen Warren, head of revenue operations for the state Tax Commission. (Betsy Russell)
House Speaker Scott Bedke addresses the Associated Taxpayers of Idaho on Wednesday, along with House Minority Leader John Rusche; at left is Doreen Warren, head of revenue operations for the state Tax Commission. (Betsy Russell)

House Speaker Scott Bedke predicts that the upcoming legislative session won’t address a big backlog in maintenance funding for the state’s roads and bridges, in part because he said people in his region don’t seem concerned about the roads. “We don’t have clear consensus on that issue,” Bedke told the Associated Taxpayers of Idaho today.

He also urged caution on state spending, saying, “There’s been modest growth in the economy, there’ll be modest growth in the money available as we set budgets, but there’s no runaways there. There’s not a lot of extra new money.” Bedke suggested that business interests pushing for further tax relief on business personal property consider whether they think the state should give up a different tax break to fund that, like the grocery tax credit. “In this time of allocating scarce resources, I think maybe it’s incumbent upon us to talk about this,” he said. “We can get rid of personal property tax. … We can buy down the income tax rates, if that’s what we want to do. But it comes with hard choices.”

House Minority Leader John Rusche, D-Lewiston, warned that Idaho’s not investing for its future, from low state employee pay that prompts costly turnover to underfunding for schools, infrastructure and more. “I think we’re going to hear a lot about what’s important in the primary elections,” he said. “So I’m not very optimistic we’re going to be addressing any of these issues.”




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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Russell covers Idaho news from the state capitol in Boise and writes the Eye on Boise blog.

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