Rep. Paul Romrell was one of only three Idaho House Republicans to vote against tax relief during the 2016 legislative session.
And, he pledged to vote against tax cuts again if the Legislature doesn’t do something positive for the 78,000 Idahoans in the so-called “Obamacare gap.”
Romrell joined with Reps. Maxine Bell of Jerome and Marc Gibbs of Grace, along with all House Democrats, to oppose a bill that would have provided tax relief for workers in the top three income brackets, essentially anyone bringing home more than $7,200 a year.
The tax relief plan, sponsored by House Majority Leader Mike Moyle, would have also increased the grocery tax rebate by $10 a year for all other workers. That bill passed the House in early February on a 53-to-16 vote.
Speaking at a post-legislative town hall meeting in Rigby last week, Romrell finally explained his opposition to the bill.
“I am dedicated to that gap population,” Romrell told the town hall crowd. “I would have hated to have voted for a tax cut and come home, and had that gap population out there in trouble.”
Romrell is one of five House Health and Welfare Committee members who pledged in March to vote against all bills the panel considers in 2017 unless they get an up-or-down vote on Medicaid expansion.
Republican Reps. Kelley Packer of McCammon, Merrill Beyeler of Leadore, Christy Perry of Nampa, and Caroline Troy of Genesee also pledged to obstruct committee business next year to pave Obamacare’s path in the Idaho Capitol.
Romrell admitted that he knew the potential political consequences of his vote, but boasted he would vote the same way again.
“There were only three of us Republicans who voted against a tax cut,” Romrell explained. “And I knew that would haunt me back home, but I would do it again.”
Romrell, a two-term member, said he knew prior to voting that the bill “wasn’t going anywhere,” so he went “out on a limb” to vote against the tax relief.
Bell and Gibbs, who help lead the powerful Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee, also voted against the bill in protest. Bell told IdahoReporter.com in February that she and Gibbs coordinated their dissent because they believed the budget committee couldn’t fit the relief in its big spending plans.
Idaho legislators did not provide any tax relief this year and they added more than $200 million to the state budget this legislative session.
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