Friday, September 19, 2008

Cutting taxes is first priority

A recent opinion in the Express authored by Richard Slaughter pointed out that my commitment to cutting Idahoans' taxes will be my first priority if I am elected to the U.S. Senate. Mr. Slaughter was correct on that point; however, I must correct his opinion on several others.

When I became governor, property taxes were skyrocketing, and Idahoans needed relief. I drew a bill using legislators' input and called a special session of the Legislature. The bill received a two-thirds vote and reduced property taxes by about 20 percent and added one penny to the sales tax to protect educational funding. Property taxes were cut by $260 million in 2006 and cut at least that much every year thereafter. The actual net tax cut the year I was governor (2006) was over $200 million since the increase in the sales tax did not take effect until October 2006. The simple math indicates a $210 million net tax cut for 2006 and "only" $50 million tax cut every year thereafter. These numbers are supported by Associated Taxpayers of Idaho and the Idaho State Tax Commission.

As governor, I also insisted that the November 2006 ballot include an advisory question on the reduction in property taxes and the penny sales tax increase to protect education. I wanted to be sure Idahoans supported the change, and 72 percent did.

Idaho voters are wise and understand they have control over their spending and the taxes they pay on discretionary items. Therefore, those who spend the most pay more in sales tax. There is no control over the property taxes on their home.

Property taxes are still too high, but if my voter-approved property tax relief was reversed, the sales tax would drop a penny and property taxes would soar an additional 20 percent. Everywhere I go, Idahoans are telling me that we—72 percent of us—did the right thing.

Cutting taxes will continue to be my first priority if Idaho voters send me to the U.S. Senate. Mr. Slaughter's opinion was correct on that point and I appreciate it.

Jim Risch

U.S. Senate candidate


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