House Majority Leader Mike Moyle, R-Star, moved to recommend to the Legislature approving the proposed legislation to create a new statewide local government reporting system through the state controller’s “Transparent Idaho” website, and Sen. Jim Rice, R-Caldwell, seconded the motion. Moyle said he thought the proposal was “an important part” of what the Legislature’s interim committee on property taxes and expenditures has been considering, though it’s not the full answer.
Rep. Lauren Necochea, D-Boise, said, “I like a lot of what I see here, but I guess I’m just a bit hesitant about the big price tag,” at $1.7 million for the first year and $1.3 million She said she’d prefer to start with a smaller pilot program.
Rep. Randy Furniss, R-Rigby, said he thought the price tag was worth it. “I think this spend and the rate of return for this spend … is what this state needs,” he said. “To have government treated like a business is the right direction, and this bill … is the right step to get Idaho on track to be run like a business and to make good business decisions. And to do that you need good data.” He added, “I think the savings here will be tremendous.”
Sen. Grant Burgoyne, D-Boise, said, “I’m inclined to vote for the motion, but I think the way we got to this point and the things that are not on the agenda give me great cause for concern.”
“We have three pieces of legislation in front of us for this committee,” Burgoyne said. “What happened to the other pieces of legislation that were submitted to this committee? They’re not on the agenda, and they were property tax bills.” Those included proposals to address the homeowner’s exemption, the circuit breaker property tax relief program, impact fees and more.
Said Burgoyne, “You wonder if you’re just being played for a chump here.”
Sen. Jim Rice, R-Caldwell, retorted, “This is a misrepresentation of both this bill and the other bills on the agenda. All of them address property tax. This one clearly directly goes to studying property tax and its expenditure.”
Burgoyne responded, “The problem is what’s not on the agenda at all. We have heard serious questions, serious proposals referred to by a member of this committee in one of our meetings as being ‘stupid.’ We are not on track.”
That comment, at an earlier meeting, came from Moyle.
Rep. Jim Addis, R-Coeur d’Alene, who is presiding over today’s meeting as co-chairman, said, “Sen. Burgoyne, with respect, let me interrupt. I appreciate that. I would hope that this committee proceeding doesn’t get to that level and I appreciate your concerns, and I understand where you’re coming from. We may have a disagreement with that, but we’re also going to be trying to focus, and we will be focusing on the agenda.”
Burgoyne said, “If I vote for this legislation, I want my concerns about that vote to be clear.”
Rice said he heard from a constituent who wanted to compare spending in the Caldwell city budget to other local government budgets, but couldn't, because "the data that's currently available is so opaque that you can't tell." He said, "It really is something that will benefit the people that we serve."
Rep. John Vander Woude, R-Nampa, a non-voting member of the panel, said, “It’s not the end-all.” But, he said, “I think this is a good step forward.”
Jason Monks, R-Nampa, said when it comes to property taxes, “We need more information, and that’s what this transparency bill is all about. … We can only tackle so many things at one time, and I think these were good starts for us to look at.”
The panel then approved the proposal on a unanimous voice vote.