BOISE, Idaho — State Senator Jim Rice says he's got a better way to fund schools while taking the burden off property owners.
Rice is drafting legislation to increase sales tax by a penny with all the money earmarked for schools. He says the move would increase funding for schools by $35 million, and would end the practice of passing local levies on property owners.
"The problem with property taxes is if you have someone with a fixed income when the property tax goes up you can reach a point where they can't afford to stay in their home," Rice said.
Rice says property tax levies disproportionately affect the poor and elderly and drive up rental costs. Rice is collecting comment on the idea and hopes to have something ready for hearings in mid-February.
The Nampa School District says they're not so sure the increase would help.
“I have some concerns, being dependent on tax revenue, because tax revenue is really dependent a lot on the economy. So if the economy’s strong, sales tax revenue is going to be strong -- and if we go into recessions again that can dip, and we saw that in our past recession, so just some questions we raised," said Assistand Superintendent Gregg Russell.
The Treasure Valley's other two districts are being fairly tight lipped about the plan. A Boise School District Spokesman said "Until we see actual legislation, we won't be able to comment on the viability." The West Ada School District told us they don't know enough about the proposal yet to form an opinion.