Legislature eyes personal property tax

POSTED: 06:34 PM MST Jan 08, 2013 
BOISE, Idaho -

Democratic lawmakers are responding mostly positively to the State of the State address the governor gave Monday, saying something many thought they'd never hear. Still, they added some words of caution to his proposal to tackle personal property tax.

"We have listened to Gov. Otter's State of the State address and found much to like in his comments," said Senate Minority Leader Michelle Stennett of Ketchum as she read a statement from Democrats on Tuesday.

In general, Democrats said they liked what Otter had to say, and it lends itself to this new theme of compromise many are noticing in the state Capitol this week.

Nevertheless, when it comes to a big issue in the state Legislature this year, eliminating personal property tax, the Democrats find some aspects of that worrisome.

"We appreciate that his approach to the personal property tax issue includes consideration of creating new local revenue opportunities,” said Stennent. “However, while we seek policy to help our major employers thrive, we must be sure that our communities are not impoverished. The Legislature must not force communities to cut critical services like ambulances, firefighting and the police. The Legislature must ensure that school districts aren't forced to slash budgets and degrade educational opportunities further."

Legislative leaders on both sides of the aisle recognize the devil will be in the details.

They all know they can't just pull personal property tax revenue out from under local governments – they'll just have to find a way to replace it.

Senate Majority Leader Bart Davis, R-Idaho Falls, told Local News 8 and KIDK that the personal property tax will be a tough issue to wrestle with, but he said businesses in Idaho don't just dislike the personal property tax – they hate it.

"I've never seen in the week or two I've been here quite the resolve to drive a stake through the heart of business personal property tax like I've seen this year,” said Davis. “It's been something that troubled us for years."