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Idaho legislature greenlights largest tax cut in state history

The state flag of Idaho hanging from the capitol rotunda.
James Dawson
Boise State Public Radio

State senators passed the largest income tax cut in Idaho history Tuesday, which would move the state closer to a flat tax system.

The proposal would cut the top personal and corporate income tax rates to 6%. That would affect anyone earning more than $5,000 a year.

Adding in another one-time tax rebate, the plan will cost more than $1.5 billion over the next four years. Of that, $600 million would be spent immediately.

Democrats have balked at that number, saying the money should go elsewhere.

“I have not had one single email or phone call regarding income tax reduction,” said Senate Minority Caucus Chair Janie Ward-Engelking (D-Boise).

What Ward-Engleking has heard from constituents, she said, are pleas to eliminate the tax on groceries and lower ballooning property taxes.

She and other Democrats unveiled their $600 million plan last week, though they said Republican leaders refuse to give their ideas committee hearings.

Critics called on lawmakers to hold off passing the bill until other initiatives, like repairing roads and bridges, or school funding budgets, are approved.

Sen. Peter Riggs (R-Post Falls) said those competing issues will eventually be hashed out.

“Therefore, the wisest course of action right now is to return that money back to its rightful owner, which is the people,” Riggs said.

An effort to amend the bill to eliminate the grocery tax failed by a wide margin. Other legislation to increase the annual grocery tax credit or nix the tax entirely have been floated.

Gov. Brad Little is expected to sign the tax cut measure in the coming days.

Follow James Dawson on Twitter @RadioDawson for more local news.

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I cover politics and a bit of everything else for Boise State Public Radio. Outside of public meetings, you can find me fly fishing, making cool things out of leather or watching the Seattle Mariners' latest rebuilding season.

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