by Logan Finney, Idaho Reports
The Idaho House of Representatives approved this year’s headliner tax proposal on Thursday, voting 57-13 to pass the bill and send it to the Senate.
Rep. Mike Moyle, R-Star, argued that Idaho needs to be competitive and attract businesses to keep pace with the state’s rapid population growth. He said that in the towns he represents, there are plenty of new houses being constructed but not enough new businesses that will provide jobs.
Rep. Lori McCann, R-Lewiston, also spoke in favor of lowering taxes to attract businesses.
“Where I’m from, we’ve lost a lot of retail – large, large employers – and we are suffering there,” McCann said. “Those of you in [the Treasure Valley], your growth is huge. Up in north Idaho, it’s huge. But north central and in these rural communities, we really are suffering, and we need to encourage businesses to come.”
A common theme expressed during the floor debate was generic support for the bill amid a stronger desire from citizens and lawmakers for legislative action on property and grocery taxes.
“I really like the rebates,” said Rep. Lance Clow, R-Twin Falls. “I would prefer property tax relief, but I’m going to support this bill because it’s the best bill before us.”
Democrats, on the other hand, argued that the $600 million measure eats up too much of the legislature’s spending too early in the session.
“It’s been said that we can have this bill and do the other things we want to do,” said Rep. Lauren Necochea, D-Boise. “I will eat my hat if we pass this bill and repeal the sales tax on groceries. I’ve seen the math.”
Republicans disagreed with that notion, pointing to the state’s ever-growing budget surplus.
“There is room in this number – in this $1.9 billion number – to be able to make those important investments in education and roads,” said Rep. Gayann DeMordaunt, R-Eagle.
HB 436 is the first piece of legislation to pass out of either chamber this legislative session. The bill now must earn approval from the Senate and the governor’s signature before becoming law.