Thanks to Jim Risch and the majority of Idaho's Republican-dominated state legislature, we'll all be paying 20 percent more in sales tax starting tomorrow. The tax pays for the property tax breaks Risch and the legislature railroaded through during their one-day special-interest session in August.
Idaho Democrats (who'd already this year spearheaded the effort to raise the homeowners property tax exemption and circuit breaker relief for seniors) had a better plan. The Dem proposal would have targeted property tax relief to the people who needed it most - Idaho homeowners - without raising the sales tax and without endangering school funding. But it was "Jim Risch's way or the highway," and we now have a tax shift that disproportionately helps high-income folks and corporations and hurts middle-class Idahoans, especially people who rent their homes.
"He thinks we're going to just move on, but we're not," Larry LaRocco, who's running against Risch for lieutenant governor, said at a gathering of Democratic candidates this morning on the Grove in Boise's downtown. LaRocco and the others unveiled sacks of newly-minted "Jimmy's Pennies," depicting Risch with his hand out and the words "Trust Me." The flip side of the coin reads:
Special interests got the mine, education got the shaft
This sales tax increase did not have to happen
but it did, thanks to our temporary governor Jim Risch.
In fairness, some Republicans fought Risch and joined the Democrats to vote against the tax shift. But because Idaho's state legislature is the most Republlican in the country, there weren't enough dissenters to stop the sop to big business and wealthy homeowners. It's time to bring back two-party government to Idaho.
Democratic candidates gathered Saturday to show opposition to the Republican tax shift. From left in the front, Jana Jones, Jackie Groves Twilegar, Jerry Brady, and Larry LaRocco. From left in the back, Mike Burkett, Jim Hansen, and Larry Grant. Bob Wallace and Nicole LeFavour were also on hand, but are not pictured. Sorry these pictures are so darn dark ... I had to shoot straight into the sun!
Risch took over the governor's chair when Dirk Kempthorne became U.S. Secretary of the Interior. He'd earlier declined to face Butch Otter in a Republican primary for governor, instead choosing the "safe" route of running for his former job of lieutenant governor. But his short tenure in the governor's seat hasn't stopped Risch from scrambling to put his stamp on the state while he has a chance. Unfortunately, working Idahoans and the state's schools may face long-term damage as a result. Let's reverse course and vote for responsible leadership by electing more Democrats on Nov. 7.