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Eye On Boise

Debate: ‘A pretty good bill,’ ‘Stimulate the economy,’ ‘Not for all families’

Sen. Steve Vick, R-Dalton Gardens, debates in favor of HB 463, the tax-cut bill, in the Idaho Senate on Thursday, March 1, 2018. (Betsy Z. Russell)
Sen. Steve Vick, R-Dalton Gardens, debates in favor of HB 463, the tax-cut bill, in the Idaho Senate on Thursday, March 1, 2018. (Betsy Z. Russell)

More from this morning’s debate in the Senate on the tax-cut bill, HB 463:

Sen. Steve Vick, R-Dalton Gardens, distributed a handout with calculations for various scenarios, including just conforming with federal tax changes, and also adding state income tax cuts, as in HB 463, and the impact on households of various sizes and income levels. “If we had only conformed, virtually everyone on this list … their taxes would have gone up, some significantly,” he said. But they’d go up less under HB 463. “So it’s a huge improvement,” Vick said. “In the end, if I had crafted a bill, this is probably not exactly the tax bill I would have crafted. It was a very difficult decision for me to make. … But it’s a pretty good bill, and if we do not pass some sort of tax cut, this will help you see how much taxes will go up if we just pass conformity. That was not acceptable to me.”

Sen. Dan Foreman, R-Moscow, said, “I’ve heard from constituents that said please cut the income tax, and I’ve heard from some that are afraid of a tax cut because they’re afraid it’s going to hurt education and other programs.” Foreman said he even heard from one woman urging an increase in taxes to get more money into social programs. “Someone’s going to come away feeling like a winner and someone’s going to come away feeling upset,” he said. “But I firmly believe that the working people of Idaho need an income tax break or cut. … A tax cut of the nature proposed here will stimulate the economy probably in the short run but for sure in the long run. That’s going to help Idahoans.”

Sen. Dan Johnson, R-Lewiston, the chairman of the Senate Local Government & Taxation Committee, said he opposes the bill. “We said we’re going to help families, we’re going to help offset that revenue,” he said. “We don’t do that in this bill, not for all families.” Johnson said the bill cuts taxes so much it compromises the state’s abilities, and said he particularly disagrees with the 199A conformity change, to exempt 20 percent of the income of businesses that are pass-through entities from Idaho’s state income tax. That was enacted at the federal level to address a difference between individual and corporate income tax rates, he noted, but Idaho doesn’t have that difference – its rates are the same. Also, he said that could change in the future at the federal level. Johnson shared figures from the state Tax Commission, showing the number of Idaho individual returns that would see increases under the bill. “The bulk of those benefits have accrued to those at the higher income level,” Johnson said. “I think we can do better in our policies moving forward.”

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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