Statehouse debates two bills concerning personal property tax cuts
The Lincoln Auditorium at the Idaho Statehouse was packed on Tuesday for the debate over eliminating the personal property tax, or picking a more moderate approach. Video by IdahoOnYourSide.comvideo
The Lincoln Auditorium at the Idaho Statehouse was packed on Tuesday for the debate over eliminating the personal property tax, or picking a more moderate approach.
"This will stimulate the economy,” says Alex LaBeau with the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry, a sponsor of the bill to completely repeal the tax. “We will have better jobs, more jobs and grow from within and help ourselves out of this economy, rather than always waiting on the next greatest thing to come from out of state to make it happen for us."
But, city and school board leaders argued for a second bill, a much less drastic cut in the tax, which they argue would give relief to 80% of businesses in the state without cities having to cut services like parks or police and fire departments.
“Those are vital to our community, that we be able to provide those services. That's really what we are there for,” says David Zaremba of the Meridian School District.
Zaremba says LaBeau's bill worries city leaders because, while businesses would save, an estimated $120 million would disappear from city budgets and the state would be tasked with making up for it.
"That burden is way too big of a shift to the state,” Zaremba says. “I mean, the state doesn't have free money sitting around"
But, LaBeau says the $120 million figure is a very high estimate.
"It's an estimate of what the maximum amount will be, and the likelihood is it's going to be significantly less,” he says. “In fact, we think it will probably be somewhere in the 50 million range."
He says the bill presented by the Idaho Association of Counties goes too far in picking the type of businesses getting a break from the tax and an overall cut makes more sense.
"Our bill treats everyone the same, treats everyone fairly,” LaBeau says. “And, we can move forward with a piece of legislation that actually works for the citizens of the state of Idaho."
Zaremba says cutting the tax altogether might benefit business, but cities and citizens would suffer in the long run.
"They are supported by taxes. And, people understand, if they want those services, in our case, police and fire and parks, that's what the taxes pay for,” he says.
Debate will continue on Wednesday. The vote on the two bills was delayed until Thursday, when lawmakers will discuss the bill again.