Rep. Shirley Ringo, D-Moscow, proposed legislation this morning for a 5 percent income tax surcharge on those earning more than $77,100 a year, to raise $44 million a year to spend in areas where state is failing to comply with state laws, policies or interests due to inadequate general fund revenues. She said that would include raises for public employees and teachers and restoring cuts to education.
“I feel that we have weakened our efforts in education and in those workforce preparation areas that can attract higher paying entities to come to the state,” Ringo told the House Rev & Tax Committee. “And by doing that, I think we have gradually worked ourselves down to the point where we have a median income that’s lower than any other state in the nation. … I think addressing it with the income tax is one of the least regressive ways.”
Committee members decried the proposal, however. Rep. Mark Patterson, R-Boise, called it “this tax on tax,” and Rep. Stephen Hartgen, R-Twin Falls, said, “Just philosophically I think this is sort of a pure redistributionist approach toward sort of raising some folks’ income and taking it away from others.” Rep. Lenore Barrett, R-Challis, said, “I oughta make a record, I guess, and just keep playing it every time we have a motion. … We’re talking about raising taxes, and this is not the time to do that and certainly not in this way. … Even if you could find something that was compelling in this bill to justify its existence, this is not the time to do it.”
Rep. Grant Burgoyne, D-Boise, said, “Were this bill to come before the committee on the merits, I don’t know whether I would support it or not, but I think the issue that the good representative has presented to us is one we should consider.” However, the committee voted 11-3, along party lines, against introducing the bill, with only the panel’s three Democrats dissenting.