I congratulate the Legislature for voting to eliminate the tax on groceries. Now, I encourage the governor to sign the grocery tax repeal, and I invite the lieutenant governor to join me in this effort. This could be a great day for struggling Idaho families.
Currently, Idahoans can get a grocery tax credit when filing their tax returns. Sen. Cliff Bayer and I championed the effort to put that credit in place in 2009. But as Sen. Bayer recently explained, the grocery tax credit has done all it can do. The next step, which I also advocated for when I ran for governor in 2014, is to completely eliminate the grocery tax.
Getting rid of this tax will help Idaho families by allowing them to keep more of the money they earn. Not only does this provide badly needed financial relief to struggling Idaho families, but it also means local Idaho stores will see an increase in business. Retail stores in our border towns badly needed customers, and Idaho has a lot of border towns. Historically, Idaho’s grocery tax has encouraged Idahoan customers to buy from retailers in Ontario, Spokane, and other towns that surround us.
Some people have concerns about the potential impact of lost sales tax revenue to the state budget if the repeal goes into law. I understand those concerns, but the impact will not be as much as some people think. This is because most of the cost has already been offset by the grocery tax credit Sen. Bayer and I got passed in 2009. Also, consumer spending will increase … exactly how much is not clear, but if people know they will pay less when they go to the grocery store, they’re likely to spend more for other items — some of which will be subject to sales tax.
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The reduced tax burden makes every Idahoan better off, which is in line with proposals I’ve outlined for boosting economic growth:
1. More high-paying technology and natural resource-based jobs. I played a role growing jobs at Idaho technology companies and I see the potential to replicate this process when I visit towns all over the state. I understand obstacles our economy faces and know how to fix them.
2. A better, more modern tax and regulatory policy that is truly business friendly. I saw what a good tax and regulatory climate can do when doing plant site evaluations and implementing sales channels for Micron and other Idaho companies around the world.
3. Re-direct education efforts to focus on careers for the future, especially in cutting edge technologies. An average wage of $1,900 per month for new hires is just not good enough for the highly talented people of Idaho. We can do better. And we must.
4. Ensure that government does more with less.
Reducing tax burden on citizens has been a passion of mine for some time. We can do it. Idaho, this is only the beginning.
Russ Fulcher is a candidate for governor in the 2018 election.