Reform Idaho’s Outdated Tax Code – 5/5/5 Tax Plan
Idaho has some of the highest income tax rates in the West, hurting small businesses and families. Making this even worse, our tax code is riddled with loopholes that favor some industries over others, creating an uneven playing field and distorting the free market. As governor, I’ll work with the Legislature to eliminate income tax loopholes, flatten and broaden the tax base, and put more money back in your pocket. Our initial goal will be to reduce the individual, corporate, and sales tax rates to 5 percent.
Eliminate the Sales Tax on Groceries
Charging sales taxes on groceries hurts families living on tight budgets, and it’s one of the most regressive and least fair forms of taxation. In fact, most states don’t tax grocery purchases at all. I support eliminating the sales tax on groceries, and as governor, I’ll make sure our tax code doesn’t harm Idahoans working to put food on their tables.
Phase out the Personal Property Tax on Businesses
Personal property taxes charged on business equipment is one of the most unwieldy and least efficient forms of taxation. This type of tax forces small businesses to spend countless hours each year inventorying equipment, and it discourages larger businesses from investing in Idaho. This tax must go. As governor, I’ll work with the Legislature to once and for all get rid of personal property taxes and its cumbersome paperwork requirements. Eliminating this tax has been on the Legislature’s agenda for more than two decades. It’s past time to turn talk into action.
End Favoritism in Economic Development
Idaho’s economic development efforts must be fair for everyone involved. Government shouldn’t pick favorites or force one taxpayer to subsidize the business ventures of another. Whether through urban renewal programs or special tax incentives, state and local governments in Idaho are picking winners and losers at the expense of hard working Idahoans. As governor, I will seek a moratorium on creating new urban renewal districts and stop urban renewal laws from being used as a slush fund for local politicians to reward their private developer friends. Additionally, I will promote free market tax policies that treat Idaho companies equitably and end tax giveaways that create an uneven playing field for Idaho businesses. I will advocate for reforms that are both fair to existing Idaho businesses and attractive to new businesses looking to move here.
Eliminate Wasteful Spending and Slow Government Growth
From my first day in office until my very last, I will direct all state agencies to examine every expense and find ways to implement cuts. In my first year in office, all agency heads will be directed to submit budgets that start out with a 5 percent base spending reduction or explain why they can’t. This will help foster an environment central to my administration wherein spending is always under the microscope and the need to contain the cost of government remains a priority. Agency directors must understand that no longer will state spending grow faster than the economy and faster than the growth in the average family’s income. Cutting costs, finding better, less expensive ways to conduct business and examining existing programs to make sure they constitute the proper role of government will be the ongoing objective for every person in my administration.
Audit Idaho’s Administrative Rules and Eliminate Unnecessary Regulations
As governor, I’ll lead a complete review of Idaho’s administrative code with an eye toward reducing the number of regulations significantly. Idahoans will be invited to provide comments and feedback that help eliminate regulations that are duplicative, redundant, harmful to free enterprise, outdated, or unnecessary.
Eliminate Artificial Barriers to Creating New Jobs
Occupational licensing should exist to protect public health and safety. Unfortunately, occupational licensing has been used by some to create barriers to entry to protect existing businesses in specific industries. As governor, I’ll work with the Legislature to begin eliminating those occupational licenses that protect special interests, not the public. Additionally, where occupational licenses continue to exist, my administration will look to eliminate onerous licensure requirements that make it difficult if not impossible for people to climb the ladder of economic opportunity.
Create the Governor’s Office of Innovation and Economic Competitiveness
To compete in a demanding and ever-changing global economy we need to work aggressively to foster a culture of innovation and economic competitiveness in Idaho. I will establish the Governor’s Office of Innovation and Economic Competitiveness to work with entrepreneurs, educational institutions, industry partners, state agencies, and regional economic development organizations to coordinate our shared efforts to promote these initiatives and serve as the primary source to coordinate public policy across state government that focuses on strengthening Idaho’s economy. I will also modernize the state Department of Commerce to support these activities across Idaho and retool it to be more focused on coordinating economic development activities across the state and identifying weaknesses that inhibit growth and success, rather than promoting select companies at the expense of others.
Develop a Workforce for Our Future
Idaho’s workforce training tool, the Workforce Development Training Fund, is more than 20 years old, woefully out of date, ineffective and misapplied. We must develop better tools if we are to help Idaho’s workforce to meet the demands of the 21st century. This will require an effort, coordinated through the governor’s office, on several fronts. First, we must change how we train workers. Instead of directing financial assistance to select companies or industries, we need to focus on developing individuals. Idaho will only achieve long-term, enduring economic success if our people have employable skills that allow them to move throughout our labor market and be successful. Second, our education system—from Kindergarten through graduate school— must meet the needs of students in a complex and fast-changing economy. Our students must receive exposure to training that meets real world needs. Whether through apprenticeship programs, career technical education, certificate programs, or traditional schooling, we must ensure that every student has a meaningful opportunity to succeed after high school.
Reduce Reliance on the Federal Government
Idaho’s reliance on federal funds has grown considerably over the last decade. Today, the state receives hundreds of grants from the federal government. When policies are being dictated by bureaucrats in Washington, D.C., Idahoans are unable to decide for themselves how programs are managed. Equally worrisome is that the federal government is broke. It is only a matter of time before federal dollars dry up. As governor, I will take steps to reduce the state’s reliance on the federal government so that our residents who depend on government services are not left vulnerable by actions taken by Congress.