Personal Property Tax, Health Insurance Exchange Likely Topics In Governor's Yearly Address Today
Monday Idaho’s 2013 legislative session begins with Governor Butch Otter’s State of the State address. Speaking to reporters Friday Otter hinted at what he might say.
“The state of the state is in pretty good shape,” he said. “It’s in great shape when I compare it to the stories I hear from a lot of my colleagues in the different governors’ organizations that I belong to.”
Otter says he’ll propose a budget that is balanced and sound with no new revenue. But there’s a lot he hasn’t revealed.
One thing we know Otter will talk about is the state’s personal property tax. Businesses pay taxes on the things they own and use to do their work, from staplers to big machines. Otter says it makes Idaho less attractive to businesses. He’s stopped short, however, of saying what he’d like lawmakers to do about it.
That changes Monday, according to David Adler. He directs the Andrus Center for Public Policy at Boise State.
“I think it’s very likely that Governor Otter will recommend a gradual phasing out of the tax maybe over four or five or six years,” he says, “so that the pain on these counties is lessoned.”
The pain Adler mentions would come because many counties and towns rely on personal property taxes as their main revenue source. Though the governor wants to ease the potential pain, Adler doesn’t know if Otter will recommend a revenue source to replace the tax. It brought in $141 million in 2012.
Adler says one sure bet for the State of the State is that Otter will ask legislators to approve his plan for a state run health insurance exchange.
Then there are some things Adler expects to hear, such as: “Some pretty strong statements about the fact that he does not want Idaho to become the nuclear waste dump in the country.”
That’s in response to talk of changing Idaho’s 1995 nuclear waste agreement with the federal government. Adler also expects Otter to talk about education funding and reform. But he won’t try to predict everything the governor will say.
“He does like to have some surprises in store for the audience,” Adler says. “And of course he’s a politician and likes to bring an element of rhetoric and drama to his speech.”
Otter did drop a hint last week about possible surprises. He said he’ll talk about ways to make Idaho more attractive to business other than repealing the personal property tax.
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