House Democrats flunk horse-trading
The prospect of a one-cent state sales tax
increase should have generated a vigorous round of political horse trading
between House Republicans and Democrats.
House Republicans, looking for an end to
the longest legislative session in state history and deadlocked over budget
cuts, were forced to reach across the aisle to solicit support for a sales tax
That should have put House Democrats in
the catbird’s seat.
At the very least, they were in a position
to wring out a grocery tax credit—something they had vowed again and again to
support—to offset the impact of higher sales taxes on low-income families.
Before their votes this month, House
Democrats had treated a sales tax increase like a red-hot stove.
Yet, when the horse-trading was over,
Democrats got nothing, and Republicans rode away with the votes and the horse.
Tomorrow, every Idahoan will pay another
penny of sales tax on every dollar they spend on goods or food. Rich and poor,
we will pay and pay alike.
The new sales tax revenue will replace
much of the money lost to a Republican-sponsored reduction in income tax
approved two years ago.
House Democrats split from their Senate
colleagues, who opposed the sales tax increase as regressive and unfair, to go
along with Republicans.
Tired from the longest legislative session
in Idaho history and apparently fearful of finding themselves in bed with
extremist Republicans, who would watch education crumble rather than increase
taxes of any kind, House Democrats caved.
They have little to do now but splutter
excuses all the way to the next election when excuses will ring hollow if held
up to voting records.
The Democrats’ primary excuse is to blame
the new sales tax on Republicans.
They say Republicans refused to consider
any kind of income tax increase and refused to hear any tax bills from
Democrats. The logic goes that in order to avoid devastating cuts to education
and human services, Democrats had to go along.
No they didn’t.
They should have left this sway-backed
nag, bred and fed by Republicans, in the Republican corral where it belongs.