The House Revenue and Taxation Committee met today in our little room that’s frankly not much smaller than the old one. We filed into the room and found our Committee Chair Rep, Dennis Lake chose to assign seating based on "seniority. " One can’t tell
if there is any indication of relationships to be gleaned from where
people are sitting. Rep. Clark and Rep. Bedke are at the little table
in the middle of the room. Rep. Clark expressed discomfort at having
Rep. Leon Smith sit behind him. Leon is a bold moderate whose served in
here for years. Smart, kind, well spoken, last year he was one of the
very few who spoke up and refused to let Denny’s Majority Republican
Leadership tell him how to vote. He was punished and his legislation
vanished. I’m watching to see how the dynamics go this year. Public
Transportation rests in the hands of those relationships on this
committee and how easily Leadership can lean on Canyon County
legislators when we vote on Local Option Taxing to fund buses, light
rail and local roads in the coming weeks.
We are the committee where all tax legislation must originate. A mountain of legislation on tax exemptions is coming from this summer’s interim committee. We had a great bi-partisan alliance there and prevailed in several votes as a coalition of Senate Democrats, Senate Republicans and Bill Killen and I, the two Democrats from the House. We were not able to get a vote for a regular re-examination of ALL tax exemptions out of that committee. I made a motion to do so but a later motion passed and we never voted on mine. We will review a few. Not the ones I’d prefer us to assess for fairness and to ensure they are actually doing what they intended in stimulating the economy (rather than just shifting taxes from one payer to others.) Maybe with time. For now we will work toward greater accountability.
I’d not want to be the Idaho Children’s Home which called this week hoping for an anniversary gift of a one time sales tax exemption to celebrate their 100th anniversary. How worthy I’m sure they are but in terms of creating a stable, predictable and just system of taxation, we really shouldn’t keep adding to this odd arbitary list of who gets our gifts today.
Taxation and spending are reflections of our values: Who do we ask to pay for what we as a state government decide is worthy of our charity? Schools or more often prisons? Industry more often than health and environmental monitoring? Construction companies or mental health care providers? State employees or insurance companies? Under Otter you will find a lot of private corporations on the list and his shift from ongoing dollars to "one time" dollars means more brick and mortar and less service for our tax dollars.