BOISE – Idaho could allocate around $27 million for substance abuse treatment without needing to raise taxes under a proposal from the Idaho Freedom Foundation.
The non-profit, non-partisan think tank encouraged lawmakers on Tuesday to consider its alternatives to the tax increases now pending before the Legislature.
“We all agree that substance abuse is an issue that can’t be ignored. We all agree that raising taxes is bad for the economy. Our proposal tackles substance abuse by reprioritizing state revenue and without raising taxes,” Executive Director Wayne Hoffman said.
In draft legislation submitted to the House Revenue and Taxation Committee on Tuesday, the Idaho Freedom Foundation suggested taking beer, wine and cigarette taxes now allocated for the Permanent Building Fund and directing those dollars to substance abuse treatment. The Permanent Building Fund is used for maintenance and construction of state buildings. Initially, the Idaho Freedom Foundation’s plan would set aside more than $14 million. When cigarette taxes now being used to pay for the capitol renovation are included in the plan, around $27 million could be available for substance abuse treatment.
“We believe this is a win-win combination. It tackles the substance abuse problem without increasing the burden on taxpayers or the state’s businesses,” said Hoffman. “Whether or not the committee considers our proposal, we wanted to demonstrate that there is another way to accomplish the goals expressed by the supporters of a tax increase.