Gov. Butch Otter is proposing to do away with the personal property tax on business property. The tax raises $141 million annually for local government. It only applies to big businesses. But those big businesses are represented by one of Idaho’s most powerful lobbyists: Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry. The major argument coming from business is that the tax “prevents them from growing their businesses and hiring more workers,” according to a report from Associated Press. What a disingenuous rationale.
What programs does the governor propose to cut? He doesn’t say, but we know that cuts will have to come because, as a substitute for the lost revenue, the governor is proposing to send only $20 million a year to underwrite the loss of local revenue. Local government will still be $121 million short.
Otter has one other idea to help cities and counties, a local option tax. That, of course, is a sales tax, applying primarily to individuals. So, the shift is complete. Big business saves $141 million and the rest of us pay for it.