Yesterday, the Legislature convened for an Extraordinary Session. HB 1 is written to replace the language of Luke Mayville and Reclaim Idaho's Proposition 1. The bill funnels more money into the Education Stabilization Fund by siphoning money off the top of sales tax revenues. As a member of the Idaho House of Representatives in 2006, I voted against a similar proposal to increase sales tax revenues and replace a portion of public schools maintenance and operation levy on local property taxes. This proved to be unwise as the national economy went into recession and tax revenues tanked. Reserves covered government programs for a couple of years but we eventually ended up cutting spending, which is preferable to increasing taxes but is not an easy task.
HB 1 does provide tax relief to Idahoans largely in the form of income tax rebate checks just in time for the November elections. Unfortunately, legislative leadership refused to consider alternative proposals for tax relief, including one that would have resulted in significant property tax relief. Conservative lawmakers on the House floor tried to open HB 1 for amendments, but unfortunately, their efforts were rebuffed. Some of the interesting comments I heard consistently in both the House and Senate Chambers by lawmakers was that this bill was 'bad' for different reasons, but 'I'll be voting for it anyway'. It was an interesting process to observe.
Despite these concerns and the massive spending increases contained in the bill, it ultimately passed the House 55-15. Unsurprisingly, it passed the Senate by an even larger margin, 34-1.
Luke Mayville, the co-founder of the group 'Reclaim Idaho' bragged that the Legislature's capitulation "hands a major victory to Reclaim Idaho's thousands of volunteers and supporters." I didn't stick around for the proverbial 'popping of the Champaign bottle' in the Governor's Office as I had a previous engagement to attend back home.
As I see it, the 2023 Legislature will need to address this new law, regardless of the outcome of Proposition 1.
Here's one more reminder that the Boise School District Election will take place this Tuesday, September 6th.
Hopefully, we will see a good turnout of individuals who understand that school board trustee elections are very important because these boards have an outsized influence on the culture and taxes in our communities and our state. We have a list of questions on our website which may be used to vet candidates for school board. You can find them at this link.