Otter’s Shifts

Rep. Boe at the State of the State

Tonight I’m one of five legislators left. We’ve chosen seats, settled into our desks, played with our new on-screen voting machines, and finally proceeded to BSU to hold our annual, enormously formal greeting of the Governor and all the dignitaries.
    Watching from theater seats, Otter strode to the stage, hair long, less fussy, now going natural and gray. He read from his speech which some of us had acquired in advance… local option tax for roads not public transit, 5% for teachers but only based on merit, private prisons and what I’d been holding my breath for:  proposing again to shift all of big business’ personal property taxes onto small business and families. 
    For someone who says he cares about low income Idahoans and has a grocery tax proposal that benefits only those earning poverty wages, he sure has a funny idea of what makes a tax system fair.
    Tell me does this make sense? You have very big businesses, mines, manufacturers. Some are publicly traded entities, their profits go to shareholders far away and you propose to cut $100 million in taxes and pay for that cut with income and sales taxes paid largely by families, small businesses. This is a shift of taxes. Small businesses amount to less than $9 million of Otter’s tax cut. (And we could totally eliminate their personal property taxes and give the big businesses a break for about $10 million.) But instead we are going to again do battle over the whole $100 million, a huge portion of which will be a flat out shift from one class of tax payers to another.
    And don’t get me started on Otter’s enthusiastic endorsement of a Prop 13 style homeowner property tax proposal. That too is a huge shift. I hope Idahoans do the math. Two identical houses and yet the millionaire in one will eventually end up paying one tenth the taxes of the young family next door.
    These proposals are bad for families. Really bad. They make Risch’s big business and vacation homeowner tax shift of 2006 look like a warm up. I expect more of this Governor.
    Enough for the night. Time to head home through the snow. Tomorrow our committees meet and we really get down to work for 2008.