The Associated Press reports conservative Idaho lawmakers are pushing a constitutional amendment to require a two-thirds vote for fee or tax hikes passed by the Legislature.
Sen. Steve Vick (R-Dalton Gardens) is a first term Idaho legislator. He previously served in the Montana Legislature for seven years. Vick wants Idaho to join about 16 other states that have adopted this supermajority requirement.
The House State Affairs committee passed the measure 15-3 along party lines, with all Republicans supporting it and Democrats opposed.
Vick told IdahoReporter.com he’s seen the idea in other states and thought it’d be a good fit for Idaho. “It just seemed like a good idea,” Vick said. “The primary motive is to control the growth of government.”
Some committee lawmakers expressed concern that the higher bar to approve tax hikes would mean the government couldn’t be as nimble and responsive if revenues slump. Vick isn’t buying that argument. “We still can (increase taxes), but we have to develop a broad consensus as to what taxes we’re going to raise,” Vick noted. “It just sets a higher standard.”
The north Idaho senator believes his bill could also prompt lawmakers to express more concern over reserve account levels when the state has extra revenue. With a higher bar for tax increases to get through the House and Senate, Vick says legislators would instead turn to reserves. “I think there’d be more concern about whether the rainy day funds are full,” Vick said. — IdahoReporter.com
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Here’s more from the AP:
Idaho’s Republican-controlled Legislature usually has opted to cut budgets, rather than hike tax revenue, to avoid deficits.
But in rare instances, lawmakers have narrowly approved tax increases, including in 2003 to shore up public schools.
That year, a temporary 1 percent sales tax hike passed 37-32 in the House and 19-16 in the Senate, meaning it would have failed had Vick’s amendment had been in place.
You can read House Joint Resolution 1 here.