Thursday, December 24, 2015

Just in time for Christmas - a bluster and vendetta based state budget proposed by a Grinch

On December 16, 2015  Wayne Hoffman, the head Grinch over at the Idaho Freedom Foundation published an article titled Otter, lawmakers must ease burdens in 2016. It began by claiming:

“This winter, Idaho lawmakers and Gov. Butch Otter must figure out how to provide $100 million — and as much as $200 million — in tax relief. We’re talking about real tax relief. Why cut taxes? Because Idahoans are struggling to make ends meet, and the state’s confiscatory tax policies are squarely to blame. 

A person earning about $11,000 in taxable income finds herself in Idaho’s top tax bracket — 7.4 percent — the highest in the region. Cutting income tax rates, contrary to popular belief, doesn’t benefit just the rich, it benefits the working poor too.”

That claim for the state of Idaho having the highest tax rate in the region really is nonsense when you use a common-sense definition that includes all six of our neighbors as shown above and discussed in my October 5th blog post on Using graphics to see an argument more clearly. In previous articles Wayne at least clarified that he was curiously using just the Intermountain Region (with only two of our neighbors). That region excludes Oregon, which has a bracket of 9 percent for that taxable income, and a top bracket of 9.9 percent. Also, three of our six neighbors have no state income tax. 

Wayne’s article linked to their very curious full budget proposal, which calls for a total of $3,151,920,000, which is a 2.6% increase over 2016. I say curious because it makes a point of including $5,000,000 (an underwhelming 0.16%) to Reduce federal dependency. What are the biggest changes  they propose?

The table shown above lists the nine biggest winners - those being increased by more than 3%. (Click on it to see a larger and clearer view). Sensibly, public school support is up by 4.8%. The rightmost column shows that this item represents over 49% of the state budget. Adding in the other education categories of professional technical education (1.89%), colleges and universities (8.6%), and community colleges (1.11) leads to a total of 60.68%, which is almost all of the 63.07% total.  

Another table shown above lists the eight biggest losers - those being decreased by more than 3%. The sum for those items is only 3% of the total budget. Seven of them individually are less than a piddling 1% of the total budget, and three are just 0.1% or less. They don’t make much of a difference, so including them seems like vendettas rather than carefully considered cutting. Cutting both the judicial branch and the state police is particularly foolish. Are maintaining current levels of justice and public safety unimportant?

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