Many of us are keeping an eye on tax reform legislation and considering how federal changes could impact our livelihoods here at home. I want to help make Idahoans aware of one federal program that has been working under the radar to improve local economies, create good jobs and stimulate growth in large and small communities across Idaho. The tax bill’s proposed repeal of this program would deprive our communities — and the hardworking people who live here — of crucial funds needed to revitalize and bolster Idaho’s economy.
If you’ve ever sought medical care at the Kootenai Health Center in Coeur d’Alene, enjoyed the organic beef jerky from Golden Valley Natural in Shelley, had your Caterpillar serviced at Western States Cat in Pocatello, lived in the Hemming Cedars apartment complex in Rexburg or worked construction at the new Fresca Mexican production facility in Caldwell, you have seen the direct impact of New Markets Tax Credits (NMTC), a federal program that incentivizes investment and economic growth in low-income urban and rural communities.
Since 2012, Montana & Idaho Community Development Corporation has used this program to support catalytic development projects in Idaho totaling over $151 million. They range from commercial and mixed-use buildings to community facilities and health centers. The projects have created and retained almost 1,000 jobs, provided vital resources to the people who need them most and generated development in economically underserved areas. None of these projects would have been possible without the financing provided by New Markets Tax Credits.
NMTC is not a partisan program; rather, it’s one of those rare federal programs that has been supported by Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama. The current legislation has received strong, bipartisan backing among House and Senate lawmakers, including U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo, who has expressed support of this job-creating program. However, the current tax reform proposal would omit the program entirely.
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Whatever the broad benefits of tax reform to the economy, Idahoans will continue to need access to flexible capital to promote revitalization and foster economic growth in our rural state. The NMTC is the most cost-efficient way to deliver this financing; in fact, the repeal of NMTC represents a savings of just a tenth of a percent of the $1.5 trillion in the current tax plan.
The New Markets Tax Credit is a powerful tool that allows us to redirect federal tax dollars back into Idaho’s communities — generating jobs, financing businesses and community facilities, and boosting local economies. This repeal is a serious misstep that will be felt by communities across the state.
Please act now by contacting Congressman Mike Simpson (202-225-5531) and Congressman Raúl Labrador (202-225-6611) and telling them to fight to keep NMTC in the tax code to help ensure a thriving and inclusive economy in Idaho. Please also call Senator Crapo (202-224-6142) and Sen. James Risch (202-224-2752) to ask them to include NMTC in the Senate bill.
Dave Glaser is president of Montana & Idaho Community Development Corporation, which has offices in Boise, Missoula and Bozeman.