Saturday, January 19, 2008

Taxes, taxes, taxes!

In response to some complaints that I heard from residents at a recent District 18 Legislative Forum, I would like to provide the following historical review of Idaho tax policy.

Before the 2006 Special Session here is what Jim Risch had to say (link here):
“The net result of my proposal is a $50 million dollar tax cut that will take affect this year and every year. The maintenance and operations levy is the driver of property tax increases and this will remove the cause of the enormous increase in property taxes when values escalate. Idahoans should not have to worry about being driven out of their homes by property tax increases just because they had a huge rise in the value of their home. The primary beneficiary of this property tax relief is middle-income Idahoans.”
After the 2006 Special Session here is what Jim Risch had to say (link here):
“I am overwhelmed by the two-thirds vote by both the House and the Senate for property tax relief. Difficult issues usually result in a close vote, but Idahoans saw that this plan provides immediate and permanent property tax relief while substantially helping education."
Last summer, here is what House Republican Leadership had to say about tax exemptions:
"I'm going to work through it, you bet," [House Tax Chairman Dennis Lake] said. "There are issues on the list that obviously I don't agree with, but still, we'll work through them." (link here)

"Most of these exemptions have a strong constituency politically so the ability to go and do a massive overhaul - don't hold your breath," said Rep. Scott Bedke, R-Oakley. (link here)
Here is what was said this week by those same folks (link here):

"What's broken? We have a tax system that is bringing in more money than we are spending," [House Assistant Majority Leader Scott Bedke] said.

"What I have heard from this committee is, once an exemption is established it should stay established," Lake said.

And finally, lets consider the thoughts of these same lawmakers last year during a debate on a bill that would have given a huge tax break to business (link here):

Rep. Scott Bedke, R-Oakley, sounded a similar note. “You need to ask yourself who is demanding the services” that impact county budgets, he said. “Is it ag? Is it mining and timber? I don’t think so. It is residential.”

"Yes, for this year, we do shift some taxes,” said House Tax Chairman Dennis Lake, R-Blackfoot.

First, let me make a few observations:
  1. The beneficiaries of the 2006 Special Session property tax bill has not been "middle-income Idahoans."
  2. The 2006 Special Session property tax bill has not provided "immediate and permanent property tax relief ."
  3. Attempts to reign in the dozens of business tax exemptions were half hearted.
  4. There has been a systematic and calculated agenda to continue to shift more of the tax burden on to homeowners.
  5. Current House Majority Leadership is more interested in offering tax relief to businesses than they are to working families.

Let's be clear, the only way that homeowners will see real tax relief is if the tax burden is shared more equitably. This means that we need to eliminate some of the sales tax exemptions that are in reality nothing more than corporate welfare. It is undeniable that this will not occur as long the Idaho Legislature continues to be led by the current leadership team which takes its marching orders from the likes of IACI and the Idaho Association of Realtors. This is not political rhetoric, but rather a simple observation of quotations made by these legislators. I've said it before and I will say it again, I will not support legislation that will have the intended consequence (whether expressed or implied), of shifting more of the burden to Idaho families. I am committed to ensuring that Idaho is best place to do business, but doing so on the backs of Idahoans isn't good for anyone in the long-run. The approach must be worker-centric and business-centric, not one or the other. Workforce development and training must be our aim, not more tax cuts. If there are highly qualified individuals, there will be an employer ready to offer them a good job. This helps workers and it helps business.


People Helping People in a Democracy said...
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People Helping People in a Democracy said...

Brandon Durst,

You say: "current leadership team which takes its marching orders from the likes of IACI and the Idaho Association of Realtors"

Where can I find that lobby connection? We believe it is real. To change it we have to prove it. Just to say it is not evidence.

I show selected members of both parties on the Senate State Affairs Committee. Even with that data, I cannot prove that any decision is a result of the lobby. For example, the vote on S1037 last year was party-line and partisan. Yet the Republicans who voted No and the Democrats, who voted Yes, have similar money collecting methods. Only the sources are different.