It’s open season on bills from Democrats that try to give homeowners more tax relief than Gov. Phil Batt’s $40 million plan.
Two more went down in front of a skeptical House tax committee Thursday morning. Both would have expanded the circuit breaker exemption that helps senior citizen homeowners pay less property tax.
The first bill would have expanded the exemption to homeowners under age 65 who make less than $25,000. The lower the homeowners’ income, the more relief they would have received, with savings up to $400 for those making less than $12,000, said Rep. Ken Robison, D-Boise.
“If we do not pass substantial property tax relief legislation here, we are not serving the needs of the constituents who sent us here,” said Rep. John Alexander, D-Pocatello, a co-sponsor of both bills.
The first bill would have cost $7.3 million that Robison suggested should come from a $33 million state fund for prison construction. He suggested the state pay for new prison beds in Boise through bonds and use the savings for property tax relief for the 35,000 homeowners he said would be eligible under his bill.
Along with several House Democrats, Robison also sponsored a bill that would have increased the income qualifying level for the circuit breaker program. Currently only homeowners 65 and older with incomes at $17,400 and below qualify for property tax reduction.
The second bill would allow some property tax relief for homeowners making up to $30,000, costing the state $3.7 million. Robison said this focused the property tax relief on the most needy - seniors for whom rising property taxes may be making it more difficult to own a home.
Members of the House Revenue and Taxation committee such as
Rep. Hilde Kellogg, R-Post Falls, said the Democratic bills had good intent but fell short on appropriateness. The committee voted to hold both bills, effectively killing them for the session.