Governor candidate replies: Slash exemptions, cut rates
BOISE – The Idaho Republican Party has launched an attack ad against Democratic candidate for governor Keith Allred, charging that he’d tax everything from child care to church bake sales, a claim Allred dubs a “wild distortion.”
Norm Semanko, Idaho Republican Party chairman, said the new TV commercial, which is running statewide including in the Spokane TV market, is based on Allred’s statement at a debate in Twin Falls that everything is on the table when it comes to reviewing existing tax exemptions.
“That means school lunches,” Semanko said. “That means sales of meals by churches to their members – all of these things are in Idaho Code as tax breaks. That seems to be a very dangerous road to head down during tough economic times.”
Allred says his proposal is not to raise taxes, but to broaden the tax base by removing exemptions so overall tax rates can be lowered. “I have been absolutely consistent for the entire 10 months of this campaign that every dollar raised by closing tax exemptions goes to cutting tax rates on Idaho families,” Allred said Friday. “That is my ironclad commitment.”
Allred said he favors more funding for tax collectors, so they can collect overdue taxes. He wants to shift priorities for prisons and health and welfare programs to allow more spending on education.
“I’m not talking about growing government. I’m talking about making government smarter and using our resources in a more cost-effective way to allocate more to our priorities as everyday citizens,” Allred said.
Allred also has proposed a 3-cent cut in Idaho’s 25-cent per gallon gas tax and called for lowering Idaho’s personal income tax rates. The gas tax cut would be offset by raising fees for heavy trucks, which state studies show now underpay for their wear and tear on roads, and the income tax rate cuts would be covered by closing tax exemptions.
Semanko called eliminating exemptions “a good recipe for eliminating jobs and stifling job growth.” He dubs it “the dangerous liberal policy of tax and spend.”
Allred hasn’t identified which exemptions he’d close. Instead, he’s called for a process similar to what he’s done at his citizen activist group, The Common Interest, where a wide swath of members reviewed an issue and then took a position. Where there was broad support, the group lobbied for changes.
As governor, Allred said, he’d ask 1,000 people from each of Idaho’s 35 legislative districts to review detailed information for and against keeping current tax breaks.
“My proposal is to eliminate those for which there is a 60 percent majority among everyday citizens that (the exemptions) don’t make sense,” said Allred, a professional mediator and former Harvard professor who’s running as a Democrat but has long said he’s nonpartisan.
Allred said tax exemptions “warp the free market.” He said he considers all tax breaks fair game for review, whether for sales, income or property taxes.
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