Updated: Jul 21
Both the Idaho House and the Idaho Senate have voted to override Governor Brad Little's veto of HB 292 - a major property tax reduction package. The bill now becomes law.
Governor Little vetoed the legislation (HB 292) on Monday. He said he was concerned that the bill was a “hodgepodge.” Among the many parts of the legislation, there was the removal of March school bond and levy elections. The Governor said he was also concerned about how the bill would impact transportation projects around the state.
Some of those issues were resolved. For example, legislators unanimously passed a trailer bill that sought to clarify funding of transportation projects.
1st year - $225 to $375 million
2nd year - $120 to $270 million
3rd year - $150 to $300 million
Most of the relief in the first year comes from the state's general fund surplus.
In the second year, 4.5% of what the state collects from sales taxes would be diverted to lower property taxes via a credit. Finally, the bill increases the number of people who would
qualify for the state's property tax relief program (also known as the "circuit breaker.")
Homeowners will know where the reductions come from. The legislation says property tax bills will indicate the savings with text that reads “tax relief appropriated by the Legislature.”
The measure also removes the March date that school districts can use for elections, meaning that elections can only be held in May, August and November.
Part of the legislation also distributes money from the state to school districts for the purposes of lowering bond and levy burdens.
Property tax relief has been built into Idaho’s property tax system for decades. Beginning in 1980, homeowners received a property tax exemption up to 50% of the value of their home, originally capped at $10,000. This exemption was deducted from the assessed value of the home, while the remainder was then the taxable value of the property. In 2006, Idaho began to rely upon the Federal Housing Price Index to set the exemption amount for property taxes and this number fluctuated with the housing market. In 2016, the Idaho legislature voted to cap the property tax exemption at $100,000 (which later increased to $125,000).
These changes may help reduce the cost for property owners in the short term, but will they stop overspending at the local level in the long run? It remains to be seen, but some state officials have laid some of the blame of higher property taxes on local governments that continue to spend, and the taxpayers who keep approving new local tax measures.