From the Executive Director: Week of February 6, 2023

6 Feb 2023, by Seth Grigg Share :

I’d like to start by thanking all of Idaho’s county elected officials and county staff who attended last week’s IAC Midwinter Legislative Conference. Turnout from the membership was strong making for a successful event. I hope each of you had an opportunity to tour the Capitol, sit in on committee meetings, and meet with your legislators. Even short interactions can help build trusting relationships. I encourage you to keep up the outstanding work.

As we enter February, the first third of the legislative session is in the rearview mirror. Things are off to a relatively slow start which isn’t a surprise given the large turnover in legislators this year. The pace should pick up this week as Friday is the deadline for non-privileged committees to introduce legislation.

Discussions on how to best provide property tax relief will also pick up over the next few weeks. Three bills were introduced in House Revenue and Taxation last week. The bills were introduced to jumpstart conversations among legislators and stakeholder groups. House Bill 77, introduced by Senator Scott Grow, proposes leveraging $120 million in annual sales tax collections to buy down property taxes paid by homeowners; House Bill 78, sponsored by Representative Bruce Skaug, proposes increasing the homeowners exemption from $125,000 to $234,360 and reinstituting the annual homeowners exemption index; House Bill 79, sponsored by Speaker of the House Mike Moyle and Representative Jason Monks, proposes leveraging $120 million in ongoing sales tax collections to buy down school bonds and levies, increasing the threshold to qualify for the circuit breaker to 200% of county median assessed value, increasing the homeowners exemption to $150,000, restoring the Tax Relief Fund, and eliminating the August and March election dates. None of the three bills are likely to move forward in their current form. A new bill will likely be introduced in the coming weeks incorporating elements of each bill. Stay tuned to the IAC Legislative Bulletin for additional information on property tax reform efforts.

Finally, last week the State Controller unveiled Local Transparent Idaho. The website rollout is made possible by the combined efforts of the State Controller’s Office, county clerks, and IAC in a collaborative approach to implement House Bill 73 (2021). The website includes basic budget information for each local tax district in Idaho. Counties went a step further, working with staff from the Controller’s Office to upload detailed revenue, expenditure, and fund balance information as well as narratives explaining each county’s approach to budgeting. Each of our 44 county clerks deserves an applause for their collaborative and transparent approach to working with the Controller’s Office. It’s yet another example of counties stepping up to work with stakeholders to implement state law. Counties have been and will continue to be leaders in developing programs and services that benefit Idahoans. Thanks again for all you do to help your constituents.