Author: Meghan Fulcher

The Race for Governor of Idaho

During my 2014 run for Governor, I was honored to receive the endorsement of Congressman Raul Labrador. He said that he supported me because of my “political courage and fresh ideas.” He felt that I would “work to reduce our dependence on Washington DC, make the tax code more competitive, reduce regulation, and give Idaho the chance to fulfill its promise.” I expect that he still believes those things.

In 2014 I had challenged a sitting Governor from my own party, in part because some state leaders had lost perspective of a question many Idahoans ask themselves on a daily basis – “Do I go to the gas pump or the grocery store, because I can’t afford to do both.” People needed relief, opportunity, and a leader who listens… and they still do. In less than six months, I came very close victory. Idahoans stood up to be counted, and they demanded a better Idaho.

Now it’s 2017. Since that time, I have traveled thousands of miles in this state. I have had the opportunity to listen to Idahoans statewide, and to learn how I can best serve them as Idaho’s next Governor. As a fourth-generation Idaho farm kid who graduated from Idaho universities, spent 24 years in the tech sector, spent 10 in the legislature, and now operates his own commercial real estate business, I understand Idaho. I have real solutions to our problems. We need high-wage jobs, lower taxes, and less dependence on the federal government. Idaho truly can become the best place to work, start a business, and raise a family.

I wish my friend Congressman Labrador and his family all the best. For the next year I will be spending my time traveling the state, listening to Idahoans, and learning how I can best serve you as Idaho’s next Governor.

Eliminate the Tax on Groceries

I congratulate the legislature for voting to eliminate the tax on groceries! Now, I encourage the Governor to sign the grocery tax repeal, and I invite the Lt. Governor to join me in this effort. This could be a great day for struggling Idaho families!

Currently, Idahoans can get a grocery tax credit when filing their tax returns. Senator Cliff Bayer and I championed the effort to put that credit in place in 2009. But as Sen. Bayer recently explained, the grocery tax credit has done all it can do. The next step, which I also advocated for when I ran for Governor in 2014, is to completely eliminate the grocery tax.

Getting rid of this tax will help Idaho families by allowing them to keep more of the money they earn. Not only does this provide badly needed financial relief to struggling Idaho families, but it also means local Idaho stores will see an increase in business. Retail stores in our border towns badly needed customers, and Idaho has a lot of border towns. Historically, Idaho’s grocery tax has encouraged Idahoan customers to buy from retailers in Ontario, Spokane, and other towns that surround us.

Some people have concerns about the potential impact of lost sales tax revenue to the state budget if the repeal goes into law. I understand those concerns, but the impact will not be as much as some people think. This is because most of the cost has already been offset by the grocery tax credit Sen. Bayer and I got passed in 2009. Also, consumer spending will increase… exactly how much is not clear, but if people know they will pay less when they go to the grocery store, they’re likely to spend more for other items – some of which will be subject to sales tax.

The reduced tax burden makes every Idahoan better off, which is in line with proposals I’ve outlined for boosting economic growth:
1) More high-paying technology and natural resource-based jobs. I played a role growing jobs at Idaho technology companies and I see the potential to replicate this process when I visit towns all over the state. I understand obstacles our economy faces and know how to fix them.

2) A better, more modern tax and regulatory policy that is truly business friendly. I saw what a good tax and regulatory climate can do when doing plant site evaluations and implementing sales channels for Micron and other Idaho companies around the world.

3) Re-direct education efforts to focus on careers for the future, especially in cutting edge technologies. An average wage of $1,900 per month for new hires is just not good enough for the highly talented people of Idaho. We can do better! And we must…

4) Ensure government that does more with less.
Reducing tax burden on citizens has been a passion of mine for some time. We can do it! Idaho, this is only the beginning!

Why Idaho Won’t Remove the Grocery Tax

Food is a necessity, and taxing a necessity inherently has the highest impact on the most vulnerable among us. I was the Senate sponsor for legislation creating the Grocery Tax Credit in 2008. At that time, issuing a tax credit implemented over a period of years was the only way to get grocery tax relief. Now the credit is implemented, $633 million has been returned to Idaho taxpayers so far, and it is time to remove the tax entirely. I support Senator Cliff Bayer (House sponsor in 2008) and his 48 legislative co-sponsors in this effort.

So you might ask – with a majority of republican legislators already in support, why is the bill not scheduled for a hearing? That’s because some legislative leaders would like to pilfer the money currently collected from grocery taxes, eliminate or reduce the credit back to taxpayers, and re-direct those funds to some sort of special interest. Please remind your legislators that the purpose of the grocery tax credit, and now the elimination of the tax, is to reduce the tax burden, not re-direct taxpayer money to some pet project.

Blazing a Trail Across Idaho

2017 is off to a roaring start! My team and I have hit the road, spending time in many different parts of the state, and the people of Idaho have been very gracious to me! It has been my pleasure to listen and learn at each stop along the way. Within the past month, much has happened! We participated in the McCall Winter Carnival Parade, attended the Region 7 GOP Lincoln Day Dinner in Idaho Falls, and tabled at the gun show in Burley. I was invited to speak to the Idaho Association of Finance Professionals, to parents and teachers at the Buck the Core Rally in Boise, and was a guest on the Mike Adams Show (590 KID Idaho Falls). I discussed land management with the cattlemen of Owyhee County and attended the Lincoln Day celebration in Emmett! Special thanks to my team for representing me in Elmore, Valley, Canyon, and Ada counties in the past week! Next stops include more county Lincoln Day celebrations.

TBT: Russ at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

When I was 17 years old, I was blessed with the honor of a lifetime: the opportunity to lay a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery. At the time I was one of two Idaho delegates elected by peers to visit Washington, DC for the student government training program, Boys Nation. The American Legion sponsored the program, along with its local predecessor, Boys State.  Two representatives per state were selected and were housed at American University.  Early one morning prior to an Independence Day ceremony, I was greeted in my dorm room (unannounced) by three uniformed military officers.  They told me I had been “recruited” for duty, to place a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. It was an order, not a request.  When I asked “Why me,” I was told that no native Idahoan had ever fulfilled such duty, and protocol dictated that over time every state must be represented by a native-born wreath layer. I was never able to validate that statement, but the officers communicated that Wyoming was in the same situation, so a Wyoming delegate (pictured next to me in white) was also “recruited.”  My only qualification was that I was a native-born Idahoan.  But I had a problem: I had no suit. I thought it would be dishonorable to perform such a task in jeans and a T-shirt!  Thankfully, I was granted 15 minutes to run dorm to dorm trying to find a colleague about my size that had a suit I could borrow. The experience changed my life.

Gov. Otter’s Misleading Numbers

I found it interesting Governor Otter stated in his 2017 “State of the State” address that he lowered Idahoans’ tax burden by a billion dollars since 2007. As it turns out, the grocery tax credit accounts for about $633 million of that number. Perhaps the Governor forgot that it was myself and Rep. Cliff Bayer (now Senator) that got that legislation passed in 2007… and he vetoed it. It wasn’t until we passed it AGAIN in 2008, with a veto-proof margin, that the Governor signed it. If the Governor is really interested in reducing tax burden, I wonder why he just proposed growing government by 9% over the next year?
Read the Grocery Tax Credit Bill results here:…