Chuck Thomas, head of Citizens for Annexation Reform, finally pushed it too far at the property tax hearing this morning. Thomas has testified repeatedly to the House Rev & Tax Committee on various property tax bills over the past three days, usually returning to the theme that developers are getting a free ride and foisting the costs of growth onto everyone else, regardless of the topic of the specific bill at hand. Today he told the panel that a “cartel” of developers, Realtors, and the Association of Idaho Cities is the bad guy in all this, saying, “They own over 50 percent of our legislators.”
That was when Rev & Tax Chair Dolores Crow, R-Nampa, cut him off, admonishing him to address the bill at hand, which was about removing a cap on property tax replacement funds for schools. Later, Thomas was back up at the podium, speaking against a bill to eliminate the “forgone balance” in local government property tax increases and make new construction allowances from the 3 percent local government budget cap into a temporary, one-year deal. Crow told Thomas, “I have to tell you again to stick to the bill,” and Thomas responded that he was – because he was talking about the impact of growth on schools. “Well, excuse me, but I don’t agree with you,” Crow responded. “Let’s stick to the business at hand, please.”
Finally, Thomas wanted to come up and testify again, this time in the closing moments of the hearing, on a bill no one else had testified about. It was Rep. Mike Moyle’s bill to allow any 25 local taxpayers to demand an election to force a cut in local budgets, which would go through if a majority vote supported it. Crow said: “I don’t think we want to hear from you again today, thank you,” and that was that. The hearing was over.