New medical school has pros-cons
Times-News (Twin Falls)
Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter announced Thursday plans for Idaho’s first medical school. It’s a huge announcement, one that will bring a for-profit college to Meridian in a partnership with Idaho State University.
Lawmakers and the governor were downright giddy about landing the college. Idaho ranks 49th in the nation for patient-to-doctor ratio, and the college is likely to flood the state with new doctors over the next 10 years. More doctors leads to better health care.
But not everyone is thrilled. All those doctors will need to complete residencies before they can begin practicing, and today there aren’t enough residency programs in Idaho to accommodate all those new doctors. The state currently has about 120 residencies. The college expects to enroll 150 students a year, and there could be up to 300 undergrad students seeking clinicals followed by residencies.
The fear, as some Idaho doctors expressed late last week, is that the new college could become a pipeline for educating doctors and sending them out of state to complete their residencies. New doctors tend to stay in the areas where they complete their residencies.
Fortunately, the state has time to solve the problem. Work must begin now to drastically expand residency opportunities in Idaho. . .
Guess who just raised your taxes?
The list of Idaho lawmakers who just voted to raise your property taxes reads like a Who’s Who of conservative Republicans.
–House Majority Leader Mike Moyle, R-Star.
–Rep. Heather Scott, R-Blanchard.
–Rep. Don Cheatham, R- Post Falls.
–Rep. Ron Mendive, R-Coeur d'Alene.
–Rep. Vito Barbieri, R-Dalton Gardens.
–Rep. Brent Crane, R-Nampa.
–Rep. Tom Loertscher, R-Iona.
–Rep. Pete Nielsen, R-Mountain Home.
–Rep. Janet Trujillo, R-Idaho Falls.
They voted to cap the Homeowners Exemption that shields most owner-occupied residences from the full brunt of the property tax. At present, half the taxable value of a home worth up to $189,400 is exempt from taxation.
The Homeowner’s Exemption is pegged to inflating real estate values. So next year, the cap is expected to rise to $200,000.
Which is where Moyle, Barbieri and 53 other House members voted to leave it. As inflation continues, the tax break for homeowners will erode. Idaho’s State Tax Commission says it will amount to a $10 million — or 2.2 percent — tax increase every year beginning in 2018.
In other words, by 2028, Idaho’s homeowners will be paying $100 million more in property taxes.
Nor does this generate one more dime for Idaho’s struggling schools, counties or cities. This is a tax shift. If homeowners pay more, it means someone else — landlords, farmers, commercial businesses and industry — will pay less.
Lower-priced homes will not be affected. But the State Tax Commission says almost 44 percent of residences are priced at the exemption’s cap.
Most of the pain will be clustered in eight counties where at least 45 percent of the homes already are priced at the top of the exemption’s range and therefore stand exposed to a property tax hike.
They include Bonner, Kootenai, Latah, Valley, Boise, Ada, Blaine and Teton counties. . .
Internet tax not a partisan issue
Three years ago the U.S. Senate passed an online sales tax measure by a broad margin that included members of both parties. But no such bill emerged from the House, where Republicans disagree over the approach to taxing out-of-state online sales — and even whether it is necessary.
Maybe House members will feel new urgency in reaching consensus in the wake of a federal appeals court ruling this week upholding Colorado's attempt to collect online sales taxes. It has been clear for years that Congress needs to create a national framework allowing tax collection for out-of-state online purchases given their explosive growth and competitive advantage over local brick-and-mortar retailers. Now it's apparent that states have unexpected leverage of their own.
Amazon, the largest online retailer, seems to understand this as well as anyone and favors a national approach.
Online tax collection is not a partisan issue, as both Democrats and Republicans have floated proposals that would authorize it in different ways. With more states likely to imitate Colorado's model, it's time to lay down national rules. . .