January 29, 1997 in City

Batt Has Chance To Back Real Relief

By The Spokesman-Review

Not too long ago, Gov. Phil Batt declared he’d probably propose a constitutional amendment in January to limit annual increases in property values.

An idle campaign promise?

No. The Idaho Republican made the statement to a North Idaho Chamber of Commerce Legislative Tour dinner in Lewiston, eight days after Idahoans rejected the One Percent Initiative.

He knew Idahoans, particularly fixed-income homeowners living in areas with rapidly increasing property values, were interested in tax relief - “very interested.”

Alas, with January almost over, there’s been no mention of a constitutional amendment. Or the “significant” property tax relief that Batt promised on another occasion after the November election. In fact, the governor emphasized in his annual budget address a few weeks ago that things were tight.

Promises, promises. When it comes to property tax relief for homeowners, politicians make promises so easily. But they have such a hard time following through after all the returns are in.

Batt partially fulfilled a campaign promise two years ago by providing $40 million in property tax relief and slapping a 3 percent cap on local government budgets. However, he didn’t follow through with his promise for more relief.

Now, state Rep. Ken Robison, D-Boise, a major backer of the “50-50” homeowner initiative that became law in 1983, has proposed legislation that would slow the increase in residential property values. Those values have been going up $2.5 billion per year statewide.

Since 1983, Idaho homeowners have been allowed to exempt from property taxes 50 percent of the market value of an owneroccupied home, up to $50,000. Robison wants to extend the exemption to the home’s property, too.

He figures his bill would cut the valuation increase by $500 million annually and save homeowners $100 for every $10,000 exempted. It’s a good idea.

Unfortunately, Robison is a Democrat - in Republican Idaho.

Without Batt’s support, his proposal doesn’t have a snowball’s chance.

That’s why the One Percent Initiative has been on the ballot twice in the last four years.

, DataTimes The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = D.F. Oliveria/For the editorial board

Thoughts and opinions on this story? Click here to comment >>

Get stories like this in a free daily email