State Rep. Mike Moyle is making good on his threat to introduce a constitutional amendment to allow the legislature to authorize counties or cities to levy a sales and use tax. His bill goes before the House Rev & Tax Committee at 8:30 a.m. Thursday in Room 240 of the temporary capitol (former Ada County Courthouse).
So now's the time. If you live outside Boise - and especially if you live in the western Treasure Valley - contact your legislators (especially Reps. Gary Collins and Robert Schaefer of Nampa) to ask them to vote no on the local option constitutional amendment. Because the bill may get through committee, it's also important for everyone INCLUDING Boiseans to contact our own legislators and ask them to vote NO if the bill moves forward. Tell legislators you want them to support the Moving Idaho Forward bill instead.
Moving Idaho Forward is a better deal for Idaho. This legislation, crafted by a bipartisan coalition of statewide leaders, would allow local communities - urban and rural - the flexibility to decide whether to raise up to a penny of sales tax for better roads and/or public transit.
Like the constitutional amendment, it would require a two-thirds majority of voters to approve a local option tax. But unlike the amendment, it would allow more flexibility since neighboring counties could work together on road and transit funding and because a local option vote could be held in May or November, not just November.
Moyle's bill fails to recognize that the Treasure Valley already has a regional transit system, with its most popular routes crossing the county line. That's a big reason why the Valley Regional Transit board voted yesterday to oppose the amendment.
Think about it: If the amendment passes, November 2009 is the earliest we could have a local-option vote - and if it failed, we'd have to wait another full year before trying again. Urge your legislators to vote no on the amendment and pass Moving Idaho Forward instead. With our roads increasingly unsafe and our air quality nearing federal noncompliance, we can't afford to wait.