Democrats in the Idaho Legislature again offered a slate of bills they said would boost economic growth and add jobs to the economy.
They dubbed it ‘IJOBS’, and it’s not the first time they’ve attempted to get similar measures through. Democrats introduced the first round of IJOBS bills back in 2010. They all failed.
This year, Democratic lawmakers seemed more hopeful IJOBS 2.0 would go somewhere. But again, all six proposals failed.
Here’s what they proposed:
- Corporate Tax Incentive and Accountability Act: The bill would have required Idaho companies receiving $40,000 or more in state tax incentives or credits to report the number of jobs created by the incentive. Confidentiality laws prohibit the tax commission from disclosing this kind of information. The measure was introduced in House Rev and Tax, but never made it out of the committee.
- The Value-Added Agriculture and Farmer Empowerment Act: The bill would have given farmers a 30 percent tax credit on an investment to build a processing facility or value-added process for Idaho ag commodities. The plan overwhelmingly passed the House but
wasstalled in a Senate committee and never made it to the Senate floor.
- The Idaho Partnership Bank: Modeled after a similar idea in North Dakota, the bill would study the feasibility of creating a public-private bank partnership. Democrats said the partnership would make more capital available to small businesses. The proposal never made it out of committee.
- The Business Relocation and Finder’s Fee Tax Credit: The bill would have offered a $500 tax credit for each full-time employee hired by the relocating business. The proposal was never introduced or printed.
- The Buy Idaho First Contracting Act: The proposal would allow state agencies to award contracts to Idaho companies even if their bids were 5 percent higher than the lowest out-of-state bid. The idea was to keep business in Idaho. The bill was never introduced or printed.
- The Micro Enterprise Bridge Loan Program: This was a bond proposal to raise capital for loans of up to $35,000 for start-ups, expansion or modernization of small businesses. The bill was never introduced or printed.
Rep. Brian Cronin (D-Boise) was one of the Democrats closely involved with the IJOBS bills. He says most of the proposals came from successful non-partisan measures in other states, which he thought would make it harder for the Republican majority in Idaho to turn down.
“They were legitimate ideas – so I did feel as if they would be treated with a level of seriousness,” Cronin says.
Cronin says Democrats were clear from the onset their package of bills was a starting point and the party was more than willing to work with lawmakers across the aisle.
“I do think sometimes our ideas are simply pushed aside because we are Democrats,” Cronin says. “It shouldn’t matter where an idea comes from, if it’s a good idea.”
Cronin says he was optimistic the value-added ag bill would progress through the Legislature after it passed the House 62-6. The proposal
died in the Senate Local Government and Tax Committee, where Sen. Tim Corder (R- Mountain Home) is chairman.
Corder says the value-added ag bill, HB 606, wasn’t fair to other, non-ag industries. “For the most part, it’s simply a departure in my view, from reasonable policy,” Corder says. “It was selective to one particular segment of Idaho and excluded all others.”
Corder explained further on his blog why he made the decision to hold the bill in committee, writing:
“Over the years the list has gotten longer and longer of those eligible to receive credits and deductions from their income tax. In my time here the Senate has been successful in slowing the further narrowing of the tax base and preventing the further deterioration of the value of existing exemptions.” – Sen. Tim Corder.
Sen. Corder doesn’t dispute the Legislature has passed bills that favor one particular industry, or even company. Corder voted in favor of a new tax exemption for airplane parts.
“There is no question there are already [policies that help specific industries], but that’s not a reason in my mind to promulgate others,” says Corder.