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.
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.
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.
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?