Batt’s Tax Bill Heads For House Measure Designed To Trim $40 Million From Property Taxes

Gov. Phil Batt’s bill aimed at trimming $40 million from property taxes in Idaho will be up for a vote in the House on Thursday, with indications it will win overwhelming support.

The measure was ordered introduced and sent to the full House for a vote Monday morning, with unanimous approval from the chamber’s tax committee.

“It’s simple, straightforward property tax relief,” said Mike Ferguson, chief state economist.

The Batt bill appears to be the Legislature’s answer to what political leaders say is strong voter demand for a cut in property taxes.

Legislative leaders are in a hurry to pass the bill while other major spending decisions are pending. If it passes, it will make an already tight state budget for next year even tighter.

The measure would mean about $1 less property tax for each $1,000 of taxable property value. It would cut local property taxes for school operations and replace the revenue from the state general fund.

For the owner of a property valued at $100,000 for tax purposes, it would mean a $100 tax cut in the property tax bills that go out late this year.

At the same time, a competing bill sponsored by the Association of Idaho Cities, which sponsors said would provide the same amount of property tax cuts, was approved for introduction but will be held in the committee.

Chairman Steve Antone, R-Rupert, said the association’s bill will be considered only if the governor’s tax plan runs into problems.

The association’s bill would cut county and city property taxes by $20 million and also provide a $20 million fund for school construction.

Association Executive Director Scott McDonald said that means property tax relief, because school districts can pay for construction only through property taxes.

Both bills contain a limit on local government budgets financed by property taxes. But the Batt bill would impose a 3 percent budget cap and allow taxing districts to exceed it only with voter approval.

The association bill imposes the budget limit only if voters approve it.

Rep. Golden Linford, R-Rexburg, head of a subcommittee which worked on the Batt bill, urged the committee to send the measure to the full House.

Antone said he was reluctant to approve the measure without full hearings by the Revenue and Taxation panel. But when he asked a roomful of lobbyists if anyone wanted to testify against the Batt bill, there was no response.

xxxx “The Batt bill.”

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