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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

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Sen. David Nelson and Rep. James Ruchti: Idaho taxpayers need a break

Sen. David Nelson and Rep. James Ruchti

By Sen. David Nelson and Rep. James Ruchti

For every gallon of gasoline you pump, 32 cents goes to the state where the budget surplus is projected to be $1.3 billion. That’s $1.3 billion more of your money than the state needs to pay the bills. Instead of holding on to your money, we propose using some of it to provide gas tax relief. That is why we are proposing a six-month gas tax holiday. It will cost the state $180 million. We have the money for it

We can do this by backfilling from the surplus into funds used for our infrastructure. The proposal does not take anything away from roads and bridges. The surplus will cover the loss of those gas tax funds.

Our proposal is focusing tax breaks for average Idahoans. It seeks to help the average Idahoan and push back against recent income tax cuts for the wealthy and well connected.

We have other ideas for bringing meaningful tax relief to working-class families too. Democrats have pushed to end the tax on groceries. We have also pushed for property tax relief. To no avail.

Instead the state has offered massive tax breaks that put thousands of dollars into the pocket of the wealthy while middle- and low-income families barely receive enough to fill a tank of gas.

Whether you are a family, a business owner or a farmer, the price of gasoline has made it harder to make ends meet. According to AAA, the statewide average gas price on Tuesday was $5.12 cents a gallon. A year ago, it was $3.28.

The net result is higher costs on more than just gas. It means an increase in the cost of living, leaving less money for families for things like food and household items, which are also going up in cost. For businesses, it means more expensive operating costs and less money for payroll or investments.

Fortunately, the state is in a perfect position to make a difference for the average Idahoan. Too often, state lawmakers have bent over backward to give tax cuts to the wealthy donor class. It’s time for the state legislature to deliver tax relief to the rest of us.

Getting to work or taking the kids to school is an unavoidable expense that pulls hard earned dollars from other items and puts them into the pump. That may result in scratching a summer vacation or canceling a streaming service in the short term, but in the long term, it could become a hindrance to retirement or a depleted college fund for a young aspiring student.

These are the stories and concerns we are hearing from our constituents as every elected official is hearing from all Idahoans. This is a perfect time for the state to address those concerns. A six-month tax holiday would provide Idahoans pocket book relief from the summer driving season into the holiday season when many Idahoans are back on the road.

The timing is perfect.

The state has your money. Idahoans have the need. The only thing that remains is the will to do what’s right.

Sen. David Nelson is a fourth generation Idahoan who grew up in Genesee and lives in Moscow. He represents District 6. Rep. James Ruchti was born in Pocatello and is a graduate of West Point and the University of Idaho College of Law. He lives in Pocatello. He is running for the Idaho Senate in District 29.