Otter considering tax rebates for new high-paying jobs in Idaho

A bill that would provide up to 30 percent rebates on income and sales taxes paid by companies adding high-paying jobs is in the works for the 2014 Legislature.

The measure was unveiled at Wednesday’s Joint Chamber of Commerce Legislative Breakfast, which drew lawmakers from Ada and Canyon counties. Called a tax-reimbursement incentive, the proposal has the backing of the Boise Metro Chamber of Commerce and is being developed by Idaho Department of Commerce Director Jeff Sayer.

The measure is still being drafted but Sayer is urging his boss, Gov. Butch Otter, to support the idea in his Jan. 6 State of the State Address.

“Jeff Sayer is going to be introducing — hopefully if the governor approves of it — some new legislation that will be what he’s calling a ‘reimbursement incentive,’” said Clark Krause, executive director of the Boise Valley Economic Partnership, the economic development organization for Ada, Boise, Canyon, Gem and Owyhee counties.

The measure is being modeled on similar legislation in Utah and North Carolina, Krause told chamber leaders and lawmakers meeting at Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise.

Bill drafters are working to define what qualifies as a high-wage job, but Krause cited a company considering locating in the valley with annual salaries between $75,000 and $100,000. The rebate could also be claimed by existing employers adding new jobs. It would not apply to companies shifting jobs from one region of the state to another.

“It’s a rebate of taxes you never had in the first place, up to 30 percent, on the jobs that we’ve created because of the deal,” Krause said.

Krause’s example was an unnamed technology company considering locating in the Boise Valley. Krause said the company has $4 billion in annual sales and is eyeing an operation with 400 new jobs. The company’s short-list also included Utah, Arizona and Oklahoma, which offered taxpayer-funded incentives of up to $15 million, Krause said. Idaho’s offer was $5 million, he said.

The company has delayed it’s decision, but Idaho remains in the mix, Krause said. “This is a deal that we have not lost, this is a deal that’s going to come back to us if we’re ready.”

After Krause’s pitch, Boise Metro Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Bill Connors said the incentive proposal tops its agenda for the 2014 Legislature.

 

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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