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House passes small tax cut, but Siddoway remains uncommitted to tax relief

House passes small tax cut, but Siddoway remains uncommitted to tax relief

Dustin Hurst
February 4, 2016
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February 4, 2016

The Idaho House of Representatives passed a $28 million tax cut and increased the grocery-tax credit Wednesday, but the plan might meet a roadblock in the Idaho Senate.

The plan, sponsored by House Majority Leader Mike Moyle, R-Star, cuts taxes slightly on workers who earn more than $7,260 a year, giving them $22.8 million in collective tax relief.

The proposal also expands the Idaho grocery-tax credit by $10 for workers who make less than $7,260 a year. This provision would give $5.8 million more in grocery tax credits to those workers.

Moyle told colleagues the plan, which would also reduce the top tax rates for small businesses owned by individuals, will make the state more attractive for companies looking to relocate or expand.

Opponents criticized the plan as only helping the rich, while simultaneously starving government programs.

House members passed the plan on a 53-to-16 tally, with Republican Reps. Maxine Bell of Jerome, Marc Gibbs of Grace, and Paul Romrell of St. Anthony siding with nearly all Democrats in opposition.

Rep. Mark Nye, D-Pocatello, was the only Democrat to vote for the bill.

But, as the bill now heads to the Idaho Senate for consideration, one legislator could impede its progress entirely.

Sen Jeff Siddoway, R-Terreton, remains noncommittal regarding tax relief during the 2016 legislative session. Siddoway intimated in an email to IdahoReporter.com this week that spending outranks tax relief on his to-do list.

We will see how much we need,” Siddoway wrote Monday. “Then when we know that we will know how much we afford for relief.”

IdahoReporter.com pressed Siddoway to define “how much we need,” but the senator did not reply.

As chairman of the Senate Local Government and Taxation Committee, Siddoway can decline to hear Moyle’s bill, or hold it until later in the session.

If he decides to block tax relief, it’d be the second year in a row he took that route.

Last year, Siddoway held tax relief hostage until legislators agreed to boost starting teacher pay to $40,000 a year. Lawmakers acquiesced, and passed a career ladder plan to boost teacher salaries over a five-year period.

There was no tax relief during the 2015 session. Instead, lawmakers passed a $95 million gas tax and registration fee hike to boost spending on roads.

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