The Legislature convenes Monday for the 2019 session.
It’s going to be a difficult year for lawmakers, in large part because of an idiosyncratic problem with tax collection.
Last year, following the federal income tax overhaul, the Legislature passed its own set of tax cuts along with a complicated set of updates to Idaho’s tax code. Those changes meant shifting tax burdens for many Idahoans, but many have not updated their tax withholding with their employers. That’s meant revenue coming in well under projections, even as Idaho’s economy continues to boom.
Because of this, two unfortunate things will happen this year. First, many Idahoans will be surprised to find that instead of a refund, they’ll wind up owing a tax bill in April. Second, a significant chunk of this year’s tax revenue won’t come in until after the Legislature adjourns, leaving budget writers with the tricky task of guessing how much revenue they’ll wind up with.
While revenue problems will mean big headaches for lawmakers, it’s not a reason to forgo important policy priorities. The state faces a number of matters so pressing that they can’t be put off, especially into a session before an election, where significant legislation has slimmer chances. Here are a few of the top issues we hope the Legislature will address starting next week.