House votes to override governor’s veto of major property tax bill

Courtesy CBS 2 News

The House voted to override the governor’s veto of a major property tax relief package – House Bill 292 – Tuesday afternoon. Prior to the veto override, the House approved a trailer bill that would address part of the concerns raised by the governor.

Property tax relief has been a top issue for lawmakers all session.

The first major attempt to provide relief to homeowners was H292, which was vetoed by the governor Monday.

In the governor’s veto letter, he cited concerns raised by the Idaho Housing and Finance Association. He said the H292 has functionally halted major transportation projects across the state and asked lawmakers to get property tax relief done right this session.

The second attempt to tackle property tax relief was made by the Senate Monday afternoon.

The Senate amended a separate tax bill – House Bill 198 – removed its language entirely and replaced it with much of what H292 did, while also addressing the transportation bonding issues raised. The amended bill also left the March school bond and levy election date alone.

“I want to thank the good representative from district 30, whose bill which looks like will not be surviving, will be replacing it, but he would agree with this I’m confident. And I definitely do. Property tax is our top priority,” Sen. Ben Adams, R-Nampa, said of the original H198’s sponsor.

Once the House reconvened Tuesday morning, it rejected the Senate’s effort to fix the vetoed bill. Rep. David Cannon, R-Blackfoot, the sponsor of the original H198, said doing so was “for a higher purpose.”

“We are the House of Representatives. We have a voice. We are not here to be subservient to the body across the rotunda. We are not here to be subservient to gentleman on the second floor. We need to be a body, and we have a voice and we need to use it,” Cannon said.

All 11 House Democrats opposed rejecting the Senate’s bill.

“It’s a fantastic property tax bill. We are just one chamber of one branch of government. We have to compromise and work through this process, where we express what we’re willing to accept,” Rep. Lauren Necochea, D-Boise said. “As amended in the Senate, House Bill 198 provides more property tax relief than the other bill that was mentioned.”

The next effort to address the veto came from House majority leadership way of a trailer bill to H292.

The trailer amends H292 to address the transportation bonding concerns, but does nothing to reinstate the march election date option for school districts to run bond and levies.

The House approved the trailer bill in a party line vote.

During discussion to override the governor’s veto, Necochea said they clearly did not have consensus from all of the stakeholders.

“That doesn’t mean we’re subservient to the other branches of government. We just have different roles,” Necochea said. “I would just ask you to think about what the world looks like for our schools five, ten years from now when we hit a big economic downturn, and we don’t have the kinds of general fund revenue we do today, and their only hope is the supplemental levy to keep the doors open, to keep teachers hired. We are permanently taking away a tool from them with the justification that we’re going to give them a boost today, but we can’t tie the hands of future legislatures and the state has a very poor track record of adequately funding our schools.”

Rep. Jason Monks, R-Meridian, said H292 took a long time to put together, and argued it was a consensus bill.

“This was good legislation when we started this, when we had overwhelming support. It’s still good legislation today,” Rep. Monks said. “As was discussed, that election date that is such an issue I guess for some. Why is that so important? Remember where your taxes come from. Approximately 30% cities, approximately 30% counties, and approximately 30% from bonds and levies. If you want to affect property taxes, and you want to affect it in a broad way, and touching on all those things, we need to also touch on that as well.”

The House voted to override the governor’s veto of H292 in a 58-12 vote.

The Senate can still take up H292 to override the governor’s veto. It will also need support from two thirds of the Senate to do so.

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