Rexburg Republican Sen. Brent Hill chairs the Senate Local Government and Taxation Committee, which this session rejected several tax breaks that sailed through the Idaho House of Representatives. The Senate panel killed an income tax exemption for businesses that hire new workers, as well as a tax rebate for a Boise company that repairs airplanes and a temporary sales tax exemption for homeless shelters.
Hill told IdahoReporter.com that he opposes these targeted reductions because they prevent lawmakers from lowering the tax burden for all Idahoans.
Hill was a vocal supporter for one tax break that did make it through the Legislature, an income tax credit on donations to schools, museums, and some state agencies.
There is a difference of opinion between House and Senate Republicans on what to do about taxes. House Majority Leader Mike Moyle, R-Star, was one of the sponsors of the airplane repairs tax break that Hill's committee rejected. "That [decision] just cost Idaho hundreds of jobs," Moyle said. He also sponsored the income tax break on new hires.
On the flip side, the Senate approved some potential expansions to the state's tax base that could bring in more revenues by looking into taxing Internet sales and removing sales tax exemptions. Those plans were killed by the House Revenue and Taxation Committee, which Moyle sits on. Moyle said part of the reason those ideas didn't get through the House is because all new revenue ideas are supposed to start in the House, not the Senate. Moyle also said the plan to join a multi-state compact looking into taxing Internet purchases would only lead to more study on the issue, not more revenue for the state. "You get nothing out of it," he said. "Why would we want to comply with someone else's tax code when it wouldn't generate a dime?"
Moyle also said that Hill's committee stood in the way of a plan to lower the personal and corporate income tax to under 5 percent. Hill said that this year wasn't the time for broad changes to tax policy, given the difficult state budget.
Hill also said his committee is committed to maintaining local control by city and county governments. The Senate panel blocked some proposed changes to local improvement districts and urban renewal agencies.
Hill also made headlines this year for proposing changes to Idaho's statutory rape laws that were approved by the Legislature.
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