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Eye On Boise

Bill would shift sales tax funds to road work…

Idaho would tap 2 percent of the state sales tax money that flows to the state’s general fund and instead shift it to road maintenance and construction, both at the local and state level, starting in 2016, under legislation proposed this morning by Rep. Clark Kauffman, R-Filer. He said that would shift about $22 million, which is close to the Tax Commission’s estimate of how much of Idaho’s sales tax is charged on tires and automobile accessories. Stores that sell those items wouldn’t have to keep track; the percentage would just come off the top of sales tax collections.

Rep. Thomas Dayley, R-Boise, asked, “The general fund is … allocated now, so where is it going to be taken from, that $22 million?” Kauffman said, “I’m expecting huge growth in the economy, so it’s just the extra – that might be a pipe dream, too. On the other side of that, you could say that the general fund has been taking for years the $20 million from times and accessories and using the highway monies, so we could go back and forth.”

Rep. Grant Burgoyne, D-Boise, spoke against the bill. “What we’re doing here is we’re not raising money for our roads. What we’re doing is we’re taking from other obligations we have, and we’re making transportation our No. 1 priority.” Burgoyne said while transportation is important, “I can’t put it above education, our prisons and public safety.”

The House Revenue & Taxation Committee voted to introduce the bill, clearing the way for a possible full hearing.

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Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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