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Sen. Jim Rice

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The Senate Local Government & Taxation Committee has voted 6-3 in favor of SB 1108, the local government budget-limits bill aimed at property tax relief, after hearing testimony that was overwhelmingly against the bill. “The real point is that property taxes have been growing faster than people’s incomes,” Sen. Jim Rice declared, as he moved to send the bill to the full Senate with a recommendation that it “do pass.” Sen. Steve Vick, R-Dalton Gardens, seconded the motion.

Sen. Doug Ricks, R-Rexburg, said, “I don’t think it’s perfect and I don’t think it’ll be the final product down the road, there’s probably some additional tweaking that we’ll have to do, but I think it’s a step in the right direction. … It looks like it’s a good way to go.”

Sen. Todd Lakey, R-Nampa, said, “I appreciate the work that’s been done on this. I know Sen. Rice has put hours into it. … I’ve also gotten a lot of input from citizens in my district and those that have concerns with this approach. For me, we’re not there yet. … If there’s that many folks that have a concern with this formula, that’s a red flag telling me we’re not there yet.”

He added, “I agree we need to look a little closer at the homeowner’s exemption – I know it’s a shift, but we created it.”

Sen. Regina Bayer, R-Meridian, said, “Though I don’t have a complete understanding of it, I have a much better understanding of it than I did this morning.” She said, “I’m not convinced that this is enough, we need more.”

Sen. Ali Rabe, D-Boise, said, “I do not think that this will provide property tax relief that we want to see. … We need to have an opportunity to discuss all those other solutions and I think we need to do it in a way that is a little bit more collaborative,” working together with local elected officials.

Sen. C. Scott Grow, R-Eagle, said, “I felt bad last year when we left and we hadn’t done anything.” He said, “There is a need to give a little relief. This may not give much tax relief, but it will slow the rate of increasing property taxes that we’ve had the last couple of years.” He said, “It’s a pause, it’s a pause in the rapidly accelerating rates.”

The three "no" votes were from Lakey, Rabe, and Sen. Mark Nye, D-Pocatello. All other members of the committee voted yes.

Betsy Z. Russell is the Boise bureau chief and state capitol reporter for the Idaho Press and Adams Publishing Group. Follow her on Twitter at @BetsyZRussell.

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