The House State Affairs Committee voted 13-4 earlier today to introduce legislation which would remove political contribution check off boxes from 2010 tax forms.
The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Lynn Luker, R-Boise, comes as a response to the state’s budget woes. During testimony in committee, Luker said the state has lost approximately $1.6 million in revenue since 1976 due to the program, which diverts $1 from individuals’ state taxes to political parties. The program is unlike other tax return check off boxes in that money for this program comes directly out of tax revenue, not from individual tax refunds.
“It’s a voluntary action using someone else’s money,” said Luker.
Rep. Elaine Smith, D-Pocatello, expressed concern about what the bill would do to small contributors who couldn’t otherwise donate to political parties.
“There is nothing in this bill which prohibits people from giving directly to the parties,” said Luker.
According to Luker, in 2008 and 2009, by checking the boxes, Idahoans diverted approximately $71,000 and $34,000, respectively, from the state general fund to political parties.
Rep. Elfreda Higgins, D-Garden City, worries the legislation could limit Idahoans’ liberty.
“This is taking away people’s freedom of choice they have had for quite some time,” said Higgins. “I think there are other places to find money for the state.”
When asked by Rep. Phylis King, D-Boise, about his motivations for bringing the proposal before the committee, Luker responded that it is simply an effort to save money.
Following the mostly party-line vote (Rep. Rep. Mary Lou Shepherd, D-Prichard, sided with 12 Republicans in voting for the measure), the bill will be introduced before the committee for further consideration. The date for debate on the bill has not been set.