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Lawmakers override veto on property tax relief

The dome of the Idaho Statehouse at sunset with an American flag and Idaho flag.
James Dawson
Boise State Public Radio

Idaho lawmakers have successfully overridden Gov. Brad Little’s veto of a bill promising to bring homeowners property tax relief after years of significant rises in rates.

The proposal will redirect a percentage of sales tax revenue collected by the state to counties, directing them to deduct an equal amount among all homeowners’ property tax bills – excluding local bonds and levies.

It will also use one-time money to pay down existing school bonds and levies.

In all, a fiscal analysis of the bill estimates costs between $205 million and $355 million in its first year of implementation. The second and third years will, at a minimum, offer $122.5 million and $182.4 million respectively.

While the legislation originally passed both the House and Senate with just a handful of no votes, Democrats in each chamber opposed it the second time around.

That’s because the measure also eliminates one of four possible election dates school districts can use to run bond and levy issues.

Education leaders say the March date, which will no longer be an option, has historically been the most successful for passing these issues. They will now only have the option to hold elections in May, August and November.

“This bill basically cripples schools, potentially, in the future,” said Senate Minority Leader Melissa Wintrow (D-Boise).

Eliminating the March and August school dates have long been a target of conservative lawmakers.

“Is that fair just to have a few people decide what’s going to happen with your property taxes?” asked Rep. Barbara Ehardt (R-Idaho Falls) during the debate to override the governor’s veto on Tuesday.

At times, voter turnout in these elections is in the single digits.

Little’s office issued a statement shortly following the override Wednesday afternoon, saying he was “pleased” that Idahoans will see some property tax relief, despite opposing the elimination of the school election date.

“…the Legislature’s actions are a step in the right direction on this longstanding issue.”

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

Copyright 2023 Boise State Public Radio

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. If you have a tip, please get in touch!