Idaho Democrats Cry Foul Over Property Tax Proposals

Feb 20, 2020

Idaho Democratic lawmakers are accusing Republicans of holding back their efforts to solve the state’s property tax crunch.

In a press conference Wednesday, House Minority Leader Ilana Rubel (D-Boise) blasted the GOP for not actually targeting what she says are the root causes of ballooning property taxes.

“We need to stop messing around with fake, non-solutions that are designed to distract from the fact that this legislature actually caused the current property tax problems,” Rubel said.

Instead, she pointed to seven bills – some of which are bipartisan – that aren’t being considered. One would expand the circuit breaker program to help low-income seniors and veterans cover their property tax bill.

Another would share internet sales tax revenue with counties and cities. Right now, that money sits in a separate account and can only be used for tax relief. 

A third would overhaul Idaho’s criminal justice sentencing system, which Rubel blames for the state’s bulging prisons. Those additional inmates are either sent out of state, or parked in county jails. County sheriffs have argued the state doesn’t reimburse them for the full cost of housing these inmates, with the remainder of the bill foisted on county taxpayers.

Rubel called out a bill that House Republicans hold up as a temporary fix. That measure would freeze the ability of cities, counties and other taxing districts to hike their property tax levy rate for one year while lawmakers come up with a more permanent solution through an interim committee.

Most of these proposals from Democrats have yet to be introduced, with the target deadline to send bills from one chamber to the other fast approaching at the beginning of March.

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