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Corporate welfare bill moves to Idaho Senate

Corporate welfare bill moves to Idaho Senate

Dustin Hurst
March 25, 2015
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March 25, 2015

A bill to allow county commissioners to hand out special tax breaks to companies looking to expand or set up shop in Idaho won approval from the House Wednesday.

The bill, cleared on a 62 to 3 vote, now heads to the Idaho Senate for further consideration.

The plan, backed by the Idaho Department of Commerce, expands an existing program that allows county commissioners to waive certain property taxes on new investments for up to five years. Investments can flow from existing companies expanding operations or businesses looking to relocate to the state.

State law previously allowed commissioners to waive taxes for up to five years for companies investing at least $3 million in a certain project. The new bill drops that level to $500,000.

The law also limits the exemption to manufacturing projects, but the agency’s plan opens the door to any non-retail investment.

The legislation doesn’t necessarily require that companies bring a certain number of new jobs to a county.

Floor sponsor Mike Moyle, the Republican House Majority Leader from Star, hailed the plan as a local-option tool that drives growth.

“It allows more flexibility to county commissioners,” Moyle said. “It’s a great economic tool.”

Freshman Rep. Ryan Kerby, R-New Plymouth, endorsed the plan, telling colleagues his district lost 15 jobs because officials didn’t have any incentives to use to save the employer.

Only GOP Reps. Heather Scott of Blanchard, Ron Nate of Rexburg and Kathy Sims of Coeur d’Alene voted against the bill on the House floor. Nate and Scott opposed the plan during the committee hearing over concerns of tax shifts and possible constitutional questions of the plan.

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