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School facilities, tax cut plan easily clears Idaho House

An empty school classroom with desks arranged in rows.
Emory Maiden
Flickr Creative Commons
House lawmakers Friday approved a plan boosting school facilities funding while also slashing income tax rates.

Idaho House lawmakers signed off on a plan to simultaneously fund school facilities maintenance and cut income taxes on Friday.

“We’re providing tax relief and at the same time, we’re able to provide more money to schools. I just think that’s such a win on that,” said House Majority Leader Jason Monks, the main sponsor of the legislation.

The plan sets aside $200 million annually for the next decade to pay off school bonds, fix maintenance backlogs or to help fund new buildings. Most of that money comes from diverted sales tax revenue.

In exchange, education lobbying groups had to abandon one of three annual election dates districts could use to run bond or levy issues. If approved, the only available options left would be the May primary and November general elections.

Personal and corporate income taxes would also fall to 5.695%, which House Assistant Minority Leader Lauren Necochea (D-Boise) said isn’t meeting the needs of state residents.

“No one is asking for this and it continues the system we have where a corporation is paying less on its profits than we’re asking regular Idahoans to pay in sales tax on their food, diapers, medicine and their necessities,” Necochea said.

Idaho’s statewide sales tax is 6%.

An annual statewide survey from Boise State University found for the past two years, Idahoans have favored property tax relief compared to income tax cuts.

Necochea and other Democrats who opposed the bill also say it doesn’t go far enough to support public schools.

“I don’t know how to address that,” said Monks. “We keep adding to [the education budget] and we will continue to add to it.”

Idaho ranked last in the country when it comes to K-12 per-pupil spending in fiscal year 2022, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Education lobbying groups said during an earlier committee hearing they support the bill as a step in the right direction.

The bill now needs approval from the Senate before reaching Gov. Brad Little’s desk.

Copyright 2024 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.

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