[Vision2020] news from the legislature

Shirley Ringo ringoshirl at moscow.com
Mon Apr 3 06:11:44 PDT 2006


This week in the state legislature:


Property taxes will be the hot issue this week.  House Bills 421 (Homeowner's exemption) and 422 (circuit breaker) are in jail (Crow's Revenue and Taxation Committee) at the moment.


Both bills were amended in the Senate.  The amendments to 422 seemed rather straight forward.  In HB421, the Homeowner's exemption, the Senate placed an amendment to allow for growth in the $75,000 according to the Idaho Housing Index.  The Senators agreed this was more appropriate than using the CPI.  Usually, the House just takes a vote to agree or not with Senate amendments.  But, Representative Crow wanted her committee to take control of these issues again.  One possibility for HB 421 is that the committee will recommend that growth be keyed to the CPI.  The least attractive possibility is that the committee would argue for no index at all.  Then the amount would stay as it is until becomes sufficiently meaningless and is changed sometime in the future.


House Bill 859 will possibly be up for discussion today.  This bill proposes dropping the .3% property tax for schools, and replacing the revenue by a 1% increase in the sales tax.

I have serious concerns about this:  (1)  About $297 million is removed in property tax revenue, and 1% increase in sales tax provides only $250.7 million;  (2)  The last time a legislative body did us the "favor" of shifting school funding from property tax to the state general fund, the amount of state funds was eventually capped - resulting in a loss of revenue to the schools; (3)  The middle class and lower income earners are overall losers with this shift.


It is my anticipation that the House will approve this change, but the Senate is resisting.


Legislation is being proposed to change the funding of community colleges.  This would require counties to use liquor funds.  Over half of the counties would lose - here are remarks from one of our county officials:


Dear Representative Tom Trail and Representative Ringo,

I received this information this morning from IAC regarding the New Community College Bill funding.  Latah County receives more in liquor monies than is used for community college aid.  The excess amount we get, the law allows us to distribute to the Justice Fund (Sheriff, Prosecutor, Juvenile) Departments and Current Expense.  These dollars supplement our revenues to pay for salaries and benefits for our employees.   Unless there is other revenue to replace the funds that we would not receive under this new bill, the County will have a very negative impact.  While we are very much in support of Education, changing the funding structure would be a hardship to our county.


Finally, check out HB 863.  Representative Nonini (R-Coeur d' Alene) proposes in this legislation that high school students be required to obtain parental permission before joining school clubs.  The real reason behind this will probably not be discussed on the floor.





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