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Eye On Boise

Debate: ‘Good one to let us go home on,’ ‘Too much, too deep,’ ‘What’s the right thing’

More from today’s tax-cut debate in the Senate:

Sen. Chuck Winder, R-Boise, said the personal and corporate income taxes are the ones targeted for cuts in HB 463 because “that’s where the money is coming from.” He said, “I think it’s a good one to let us go home on.”

Sen. Mark Nye, D-Pocatello, said, “I believe the proposed tax cuts are too much, too deep, and without enough independent review. They’re well meaning, and I think we can do better.” He said Idaho’s housing and energy costs are low. “Overall, people are coming to our state, maybe in droves,” Nye said. He called for a smaller tax cut instead. “Idaho with its current taxes and tax structure ranks as one of the fastest-growing states in the nation.  … Our schools, however, are underfunded.” Overall tax burdens in Idaho are low, he noted. “How low can you go? Right now one-half of every dollar being cut cuts education by that much.”

Sen. Jeff Siddoway, R-Terreton, spoke against the bill. “You know, senators, this is really hard,” he said. “It’s really hard to figure out what the right thing to do is. That’s the hard part about this job – figuring out what is the right thing. Not the right thing for me, what’s the right thing for the people of my district, what’s the right thing for the people of the state of Idaho.”

He said he found it “disturbing” that lawmakers had little role in crafting the bill, which was proposed by Gov. Butch Otter. “I believe in this Legislature,” Siddoway said. “Had all of us had the opportunity to be active in the process, we would have come up with a much different, much better bill. We wouldn’t be seeing some of our families with more children being discriminated against. It almost sounds like social engineering, and I know that that wasn’t the intent, but that’s what the fallout of this is.”

Siddoway also said he believes the 199A change will result in some Idaho companies paying far less in taxes than others, just based on their business structure.  

 “We’re 47th out of 50, overall tax burden for citizens of the state of Idaho,” Siddoway said. “We’ve got a robust economy, I think we’re like No 1. … That comes from the tough, tough decisions that we made in the downturn. A lot of you guys were here when we made that decision in 2009 and ’10 and ’11 not to ask more of our citizens. We’re reaping the benefits of those right now. I think we all got a copy of the Boise State survey. Eighty percent of the people in the state of Idaho think we’re in a pretty good place tax-wise. They’re pretty happy about where we are. They think our taxes are fair. They think they’re pretty even. We have a three-legged stool with our property taxes, our income taxes, and our sales tax that kinda evens things out when things get tough. I want a tax break this year, so bad. And we’ve got one here. But I think we can put together a lot better tax break, and we certainly have the revenues to do that this year, if we just back up here just a little bit, if we take care of our families.”

Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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