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Idaho lawmakers head into 2023 with projected $1.5B surplus — and ideas on how to use it

The House in session at the Idaho Capitol on April 6, 2021. (Otto Kitsinger for Idaho Capital Sun)
Otto Kitsinger
The House in session at the Idaho Capitol on April 6, 2021. (Otto Kitsinger for Idaho Capital Sun)

JFAC co-chair supports property tax reductions in new legislative session

Even with revenue collections coming in below forecasts, the state of Idaho is projected to end the 2023 fiscal year with a $1.54 billion budget surplus, according to the last budget and revenue update before the new legislative session starts in January.

Idaho’s revenues at this point, almost halfway through the fiscal year, are 7.2%, or $144.6 million, more than they were last December — when the state was building toward the 2022 fiscal year’s record budget surplus.

During the Sept. 1 special session, Gov. Brad Little and the Idaho Legislatureresponded to that surplus by passing a law to issue tax rebates, reduce the income tax rate and direct $410 million per year towards funding public school and career programs.

Little will issue a new revenue forecast and budget proposals on Jan. 9, the first day of the 2023 legislative session.

New JFAC co-chair calls for using surplus to reduce property taxes

Rep. Wendy Horman, R-Idaho Falls, the new House co-chair of the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee, said she supports directing some of the state’s surplus to a property tax reduction.

“We need to remember some Idahoans are experiencing sticker shock with these property tax assessments. Although the state does not levy property taxes, local governments do,” Horman said in a telephone interview. “I still think that needs to be part of our conversation about what we do with this surplus.”

Horman is part of a growing list of legislators calling for reducing property taxes. On Sunday, the Idaho Press reported that Sen. C. Scott Grow, R-Eagle, has spent months working on a property tax proposal.

As the Senate co-chair of JFAC, Grow is Horman’s counterpart on the powerful budget writing committee that meets daily during the legislative session to set each element of the state budget.

“I think it has become imperative we bring any good ideas we have to the table to solve what is creating a crisis for some Idahoans,” Horman added. “Whether you own property or you rent and are going to see your rent costs shoot through the roof, it impacts everyone in one way or another.”

The Idaho Capital Sun is a nonprofit news organization delivering accountability reporting on state government, politics and policy in the Gem state. As longtime Idahoans ourselves, we understand the challenges and opportunities facing Idaho. We provide in-depth reporting on legislative and state policy, health care, tax policy, the environment, Idaho’s explosive population growth and more. Our mission is relentless investigative journalism that sheds light on how decisions in Boise and beyond are made and how they affect everyday Idahoans. We aim to tell untold stories and provide data, context and analysis on the issues that matter most throughout the state. The Capital Sun is part of States Newsroom, a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit supported by grants and a coalition of donors and readers. We retain full editorial independence.