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Ahlquist on taxes: Policy should be based on data, with ‘unintended consequences vetted out’

GOP gubernatorial candidate Tommy  Ahlquist addresses the Associated Taxpayers of Idaho on Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017, in Boise. (Betsy Z. Russell)
GOP gubernatorial candidate Tommy Ahlquist addresses the Associated Taxpayers of Idaho on Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017, in Boise. (Betsy Z. Russell)

GOP gubernatorial candidate Tommy Ahlquist told the Associated Taxpayers of Idaho conference today, “As you know, I was an ER doc for a long time, and then did commercial real estate. … Jumping into politics has been new for me. What’s great ... is the people ... What’s not great is talking about yourself. … I will tell you that I’ve never been as excited as I am with the potential that we have in this state.”

Ahlquist said “there’s a lot to learn” and said he doesn’t necessarily have answers. “I’ve got some thoughts. But I need you,” he told the crowd, “because you’re the ones that are in the trenches and have been for years, dealing with these same problems. And we have problems. I can’t wait to work with you, and it’s great to be here with you today.”

When moderator Dee Sarton asked him about the numbers he’s thrown out in his campaign regarding tax changes, Ahlquist said when he develops buildings, he asks companies looking to locate here what they need to grow and thrive. “They ask two questions,” he said, first about talent to fill their open jobs, and secondly about a tax policy that’s competitive with surrounding states. Of Idaho’s current top personal income tax rate of 7.4 percent, he said, “That hurts us. ... We need to get that down to 5 percent over time. We are competing, we are competing with states all around us.”

He also repeated his call to identify $100 million in cuts to the state budget in his first 100 days in office if elected. “I think there are some ways to bring efficiencies in,” he said. “We need innovation, we need to compete, and we need to bring excellence into government the same way that all of our businesses in the real world have changed.”

Asked if he supports removing Idaho’s sales tax from groceries, Ahlquist said, “I’m in favor. ... But what I would tell you I’m more in favor of, I would love to work with you and come up with a two-, four-, seven-year plan of where we’re going with taxes. I hate the way we pull out a bill in the last week and we ram it through. ...Let’s have an agenda that’s multi-year to keep us competitive. We need that, we deserve that.” Policy should be based on data, he said, “with all of the unintended consequences vetted out.”



Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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