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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
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Copyright © 2002 Express Publishing Inc.
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For the week of April 30 - May 6, 2003


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 increase.

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.


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The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.