CLAIMS VERY MUCH FOUNDED: Yes, Proposition 1 would raise nearly everyone’s taxes
I’m telling you this because Idaho’s news media outlets have taken a different and very dishonest tact. They’ve joined arms with Reclaim Idaho to report that the ballot initiative won’t result in a bigger-than-expected tax increase on nearly all Idahoans and not just people making more than $250,000.
The lie was spun up via a recent article by activist “reporter” Betsy Russell, whose story attempting to give cover to Reclaim Idaho has spread throughout Idaho like wildfire. Her Idaho Press headline even featured the first two words in all caps: “CLAIMS UNFOUNDED: Why school funding initiative wouldn’t have higher-than-advertised price tag.”
As IFF and the Tax Foundation pointed out last month, the initiative would restore the tax rates that were in effect before the Legislature and Gov. Brad Little cut the top marginal tax rate from 6.5% to 6% last winter. Both the secretary of state’s office and the attorney general’s office verified our claims last month, with Chief Deputy Attorney General Brian Kane concluding, in a July 19 email, “the ballot measure reverses recent tax cuts.”
Nothing Kane has said since then changes this. The remaining tax rates would go back to what they were before. State officials also noted previously that the petition that Reclaim Idaho circulated contained the old rates; that’s what petition signers put their names to, and that’s what voters will see when they cast their votes at the general election.
Kane did attempt to clarify that the attorney general’s office is responsible for the miswording in Reclaim Idaho’s ballot initiative that would lower the income threshold over time and subject more taxpayers to the new top marginal tax rate of 10.925%.
But who is responsible is irrelevant. Reclaim Idaho ultimately adopted the office’s recommendations and got the error-riddled measure on the ballot.
Russell’s story also hangs its hat on the statements of Mike Nugent, a retired Idaho bill drafter who helped Reclaim Idaho write its ballot measure. Nugent insists that the ballot measure has to follow the same bill drafting protocols and laws used to write measures considered by the state Legislature and a nearly 40-year-old Idaho Supreme Court case. But the bill drafting manual and statutes are not a part of the initiative drafting process. The case Nugent cited has to do with legislative deadlines and processes. It isn’t applicable to ballot measures.
The Tax Foundation also has issues with Russell’s thinly veiled attempt to save Proposition 1 and offered a very thorough follow-up analysis that’s worth the read:
Unfortunately, this was expected. We anticipated that at the moment that Proposition 1 gathered enough signatures, the press would carry the left’s water on the measure. That’s why it’s important for the public to understand what’s at stake here. Proposition 1 would represent a tax increase of at least $570 million, and it would increase taxes on nearly every Idahoan.
It doesn’t matter what Reclaim Idaho or the media wish the initiative to say. The fact is Proposition 1 would raise nearly everyone’s taxes. Any statement otherwise is a misrepresentation and simply a bald-faced lie.
Wayne Hoffman is president of the Idaho Freedom Foundation.