Bedke retreats on grocery tax shift, says idea sparked conversation

A week after floating the idea to lower top corporate and personal income tax rates by killing the annual $80 grocery tax credit for middle- and high-income Idahoans, House Speaker Scott Bedke has dropped the bill.

In a report Wednesday by Kimberlee Kruesi of the Twin Falls Times-News, Bedke says he won’t be introducing the measure this week, as he had said he  intended.

“The one thing that drives me is the mantra is first, do no harm,” Bedke told Kruesi. “I certainly don’t want your taxes to go up for having done this.”

In his effort to lower the top income tax rates from 7.4 percent to 6.95 percent, Bedke proposed taking $70 million to $80 million from the grocery tax credit to pay for it.

Bedke met Monday with former chief state economist Mike Ferguson, who says Bedke’s idea would mean higher taxes for families of four earning between $32,500 and $117,500, while households earning more than $117,50 would see their taxes drop.

Bedke told the Times-News that his trial balloon “had the desired woodwork effect.”

“We’re talking about it and we’re questioning the policy we want to use moving forward,” he said.

 

Dan Popkey came to Idaho in 1984 to work as a police reporter. Since 1987, he has covered politics and has reported on 25 sessions of the Legislature. Dan has a bachelor's in political science from Santa Clara University and a master's in journalism from Columbia University. He was a Congressional Fellow of the American Political Science Association and a Journalism Fellow at the University of Michigan. A former page in the U.S. House of Representatives, he graduated Capitol Page High School in 1976. In 2007, he led the Statesman’s coverage of the Sen. Larry Craig sex scandal, which was one of three Pulitzer Prize finalists in breaking news. In 2003, he won the Ted M. Natt First Amendment award from the Pacific Northwest Newspaper Association for coverage of University Place, the University of Idaho’s troubled real estate development in Boise. Dan helped start the community reading project "Big Read." He has two children in college and lives on the Boise Bench with an old gray cat.

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