Senators itching to work on property taxes, school choice
by Logan Finney, Idaho Reports
The Senate Local Government & Taxation Committee introduced a property tax relief bill on Thursday, signaling a desire for action from their counterparts in the House.
The legislation would direct 4.5% of yearly sales tax revenue toward local taxing districts and appear as a credit on homeowners’ property tax bills. The proposal, authored by Sen. C. Scott Grow, R-Eagle, was one of three property tax bills introduced last week in the House Revenue & Taxation Committee.
“We’ve been waiting for some movement on those [House bills], and we’re still waiting,” said Senate tax chairman Sen. Doug Ricks, R-Rexburg. “It helps us start this conversation over here as well and start moving some legislation.”
Grow also referenced the deadline on Monday after which only certain committees can print new bills.
“We’ve been working over there for several weeks, hoping to get some kind of consensus,” Grow said, but he wants “to have one [bill] in hand in case nothing makes it over from over there.”
He also highlighted the bill does not cut local governments’ funding or impose limits on their budgets.
“This is not about poking anybody in the eye,” Grow said. “This is about helping the homeowners that live in their primary residence.”
Property taxes are a hot topic at the statehouse every year, but lawmakers are optimistic this will be the session they can finally accomplish something.
“I’m so excited for this,” said Sen. Treg Bernt, R-Meridian. “If there is one thing that we can do right, and get to the point and come up with a reasonable solution to reform property taxes, this is it.”
The committee introduced another bill from Sen. Dan Foreman, R-Viola, which would establish an income tax credit for private school tuition. Families that send their students to private schools would be eligible for a credit on their taxes to offset up to $2,000 in tuition payments.
Tax committee members expressed hesitation about discussing funds for families that send their children to private schools while the Senate Education Committee has not yet taken up a significant education savings account bill that was introduced last week.
“We’re going to wait a little bit to see how some of the other bills in the education committee progress or not,” Ricks said.
The committee also printed one bill related to city annexations and two related to long-term leases of public property. All introduced legislation must receive a full committee hearing to move forward.
Logan Finney | Associate Producer
Logan Finney is a North Idaho native with a passion for media production and boring government meetings. He grew up skiing, hunting and hiking in the mountains of Bonner County and has maintained a lifelong interest in the state’s geography, history and politics. Logan joined the Idaho Reports team in 2020 as a legislative session intern and stayed to cover the COVID-19 pandemic. He was hired as an associate producer in 2021 and they haven’t been able to get rid of him since.