Idaho Schools Superintendent Tom Luna and Richard Westerberg, head of the education stakeholders task force that produced 20 recommendations to improve Idaho’s schools, are making presentations to a joint meeting of the House and Senate education committees this afternoon in the Lincoln Auditorium; you can watch live here. Luna is calling for addressing teacher pay increases, through leadership bonuses, next year, rather than waiting, as Gov. Butch Otter recommended in his proposed budget. And he’s making a call for collecting Idaho’s state sales tax on online sales as the best way to ensure the state can afford to improve its school system.
“Any tax code that does not take into account consideration of online sales tax and the migration of commerce toward online sales is shortsighted,” Luna told lawmakers. “I believe the answer is simple: We need to collect every penny of sales tax that is due. Some of you may be thinking, why would the State Superintendent of Public Instruction be talking about tax policy? It’s because I believe this is just one solution that will help us implement the Task Force recommendations. We are not going to be able to address the fiscal note of these Task Force recommendations with the current tax structure we have in place. This is the 21st century. We want a 21st century education – then we must have a 21st century tax code.” Here's a link to Luna's full prepared remarks to the committee.
Idaho already requires taxes to be paid on online sales, but there's little enforcement. Idahoans are supposed to keep track of their online purchases and report and pay a 6 percent “use tax,” equal to the sales tax, when they file their state income tax returns, but few do.