[Vision2020] Legislative Report

RingoShirl@aol.com RingoShirl@aol.com
Fri, 31 Jan 2003 13:40:37 -0500


Representatives of the Joint Finance Committee are touring the state.  They will be in Moscow February 8, 7 - 9 PM, in room 104 of the Janssen Engineering Building.  It offers an opportunity for you to express you opinion about their proposals for state spending.

This week has been interesting.  There are two bills in the House, HB96 and HB 126, that save money for the state by passing responsibility to local entities.

House Bill 96 is intended to freeze the amount of revenue sharing send to local entities at a fixed amount.  It replaces the 13.75% (of sales tax) that is shared, by the fixed amount of $108,500,000.  This will reduce the amount of money for cities and counties. 

House Bill 126 will have a negative effect on local school budgets.  The amount of property tax relief the state provides is proposed to change from .1% to the district's share of the fixed amount of $68,935,700.  This will heap abuse upon schools that are still reeling from the effects of last year's holdbacks.  If this bill passes, school decision-makers will likely have to cut budgets, or increase property taxes.

In another interesting (but not stunning) decision, the House Revenue and Tax Committee decided not to spend $240,000 to give a tax break to compensate teachers for school materials they purchase.  Legislation was presented to bring Idaho in compliance with Federal law.  There were four components under consideration.  One of them was the tax break for teachers.  (The Bush administration supported this.)  The direction of the committee was that the sponsor of the legislation carve out this tax break and then return for further consideration.  This decision may have been somewhat understandable as "tightening of the belt", had not the next bill considered passed.  The bill that followed gave a tax break to landowners for following certain conservation practices.  (cost - $250,000)The second bill had merit, but the inconsistency was notable.

House Democrats are proposing taxation changes we believe to be more fair than the governor's proposal.  Our suggestions will produce revenue to support schools at a higher level, and accomplish other things such as restoring funding for preventive dental care for adults on Medicaid.

Please contact me regarding issues of interest to you.  I prefer my statehouse mail, sringo@house.state.id.us.