Note: If you would prefer to listen to or watch a recap of this content, watch the End of Session News Conference 2022.
Republicans once again failed to prioritize the needs of working Idaho families.
Every major tax bill the GOP supermajority has passed for more than a decade has prioritized profitable corporations and people at the top of the income spectrum.
The majority passed an income tax cut and rebate, which primarily benefits the wealthy, and gives $13,000 to people at the top of the income spectrum and $75 to most Idahoans. This cut took $600 million out of the funds available for education and other needs, and of all the ways you could deliver a $600M tax cut, there is almost no way to do it that would get less money to the people that need it than the path chosen by the GOP supermajority. As predicted, this precluded any meaningful grocery or property tax relief. Despite bills calling for the complete repeal of the 6% sales tax on groceries in Idaho, all the legislature did was increase the grocery tax credit by $20 in the year 2024 – effectively nothing. Taxpayers must first pay this money into the state and then wait for their refund after they file their income tax returns. This dollar amount is trivial in the face of increased grocery prices. There was no straight property tax relief either. Many ideas that would have provided substantial help to Idahoans were not even given hearings. Democrats have a slate of solutions to go after low-hanging fruit, such as increasing the homeowner’s exemption and pegging it to housing costs, to meaningfully reduce people’s property taxes. More should have been done to help the people of our state. We need tax cuts that truly help working families. We also must ensure vital needs, such as education and infrastructure, are funded first before considering income tax cuts.
Instead, they made life harder for many people.
- Bill that would have subjected librarians to jail time should someone find that they had permitted access to material deemed harmful
- When that bill did not get a hearing in the Senate, the House retaliated by cutting nearly four million dollars from the Idaho Commission for Libraries Budget. 3.5 million of those funds would have built rooms at rural libraries so residents could receive medical care via telehealth.
- We were able to stop many dangerous bills, like several attacking voting rights and LGBTQ youth, and a cruel Texas-style abortion bill that turns women’s families into informants and allows a rapist’s family members to profit off a woman’s most personal health care decision.
Democrats Made a Difference
- We ran bills to remove racist language from housing covenants and deeds, improve confidentiality for victims of sexual and domestic violence, increase access to contraception, enable schools to purchase electric school buses, provide in-home caregivers property tax relief, better clarify the collection process for a homeowner’s exemption, ensure patients can receive visits from caregivers, and much more.
- After five years of work, Representative Sally Toone saw her desperately needed incentive program for teachers to work in rural and underserved areas signed into law. Representative Mathias ensured children of service members who die in the line of duty have access to a free higher education in Idaho. Representative Green passed the dig-once bill, ensuring that broadband is installed throughout the state in the most efficient and cost-effective way possible. Senator Nelson and I saw the OPE report describing the dire state of rural emergency medical services and we did something about it by passing legislation to bring funding for training and other costs associated with emergency medical services across the state. Several members of our caucus, including Rep. Nash, myself (Rep Ruebel), Sen.Ward-Engelking and others have been working for years to bring full-day kindergarten to Idaho – thrilled it finally happened.
- Democrats were critical this session to the basic function of the state. The Department of Public Health, the Supreme Court, full-day kindergarten, Affordable workforce housing, Commission on Hispanic Affairs, Commission on Aging, Division of Human Resources, Division of Financial Management, the Attorney General’s Office, Childcare assistance, Developmental Disabilities Council, Commission on the Arts, Domestic Violence Council, Workforce Development Council, Office of Species Conservation and more. The majority of House Republicans voted against the budgets for all of these critical agencies and services – they were only saved because every Democrat voted in support. And if we had two more seats, we could have saved the original libraries budget too.