The House today suspended its rules and took up HB 675, and passed it unanimously. That’s the bill that just emerged from the Rev & Tax Committee a day earlier to increase the new child tax credit that was created in HB 463, the income tax-cut bill, from $130 per child to $205. That makes up a portion of the increase in state income taxes that large Idaho families, with three or more children, will see due to the interplay between federal tax code changes and Idaho’s income tax law; fully offsetting that increase would have taken a $287 per child credit.
Senate President Pro-Tem Brent Hill, R-Rexburg, in remarks to the Idaho Press Club today, welcomed the follow-up bill. “I think most of us, whether we supported the original bill or not, would like to see that be more fair, as far as those families with more children,” he said.
Senate Minority Leader Michelle Stennett, D-Ketchum, said, “I’m happy to see that because we had a real disagreement with the families of three or more children being covered, but this bill does not cover it. We need to give each family $287, and this bill doesn’t fund to that level. So we’re going to give them some, a little better, but not really solve the problem.”
Stennett said from her perspective, rather than approve a big tax-cut bill, Idaho lawmakers would have been better off investing in schools, roads and bridges, and health care. Compared to pre-recession levels, she said, “We have 400 less teachers in the system and 17,000 more students in the system. … That is a place we could have put those resources.” She added, “I know in my county I have three bridges I can’t put a school bus on. This is a public safety issue. We didn’t do anything about health care and the gap population.”
Hill said, “I don’t disagree with Sen. Stennett – we have a lot of priorities and we need to face those, and we need to be responsible in that. I think this is a responsible tax reduction, considering we haven’t had significant tax reduction in five years, and yet our revenues have grown about 30 percent in those five years.”