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Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Tom Luna Seeks to Reduce Taxpayer Protection

By David R. Frazier
Those sneaky politicos are at it again!

Idaho Superintendent of Education Tom Luna is packaging an attempt to dilute the power of the people as a boon to education. His proposal would create additional taxes on businesses that don’t have a vote and it would open the door to easier passage of ALL long term debt.

The truth is, ALL proposed long term debt (usually bonds) would have the same lowered threshhold…be they for ill conceived police buildings, parking garages, swimming pools, or golf course irrigation systems. If the amendment passed, school bond elections would also have the lower requirement.

Luna seeks to amend the Idaho Constitutional requirement that two thirds of voters approve long term debt. He sells it as a hurdle being too high to pass badly needed school bonds. It would also open the door to REPRESENTATION WITHOUT TAXATION.

That’s right. Better than half of the assessed valuation in Ada County is commercial real estate. No matter the value, those owners have no voice at the polls. In Valley County a huge chunk of the valuation (recreation property) is owned by nonresidents of the county who cannot vote.

Bottom line: a tiny fraction of the electors can impose their will on the vast majority of the property taxpayers. Hence, the rationale behind the two-thirds super majority requirement. Also, well reasoned and needed school bonds have a pretty fair passage rate in Idaho when honestly presented.

The Idaho Statesman jumped aboard with an editorial endorsing Luna’s proposal to lower the bar to a mere 60% of voters. Their property and that of all their advertisers would be subject to increased taxes without representation. The 2/3 requirement is a safeguard and serves to level the playing field.

The GUARDIAN has a counter offer. We will support Luna’s proposal if he will support ours:

Change to the Idaho RECALL PETITION requirement to allow the same number of signatures that were required on the nominating petition. OR 20% of the number of votes cast in the last election for that office.

Here is the current law for recall petitions which makes removing a politico nearly impossible:
“(recall petition) must be signed by registered electors equal in number to twenty percent (20%) of the number of electors registered to vote at the last general election held to elect a governor.”

We seek only to change the language to 20% of “those who voted.” The current law could easily require more petition signatures than votes originally cast.

To those who seek a more reasonable law, here is your chance to jump aboard—and it takes only a simple majority of the legislature to pass it!

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