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The 1996 One Percent Initiative in Idaho

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The 1996 One Percent Initiative in Idaho Stephen Cooke Presented at Western Agricultural Economics Association 1997 Annual Meeting July 13-16, 1997 Reno/Sparks, Nevada July 1997 Stephen Cooke 25 Ag. Science Bldg Dept. of Ag. Econ. & Rural Soc. University of Idaho Moscow, Idaho 83843-2334 [email protected] 885-7170 (voice) 885-5759 (fax) 2 The 1996 One Percent Initiative In Idaho Abstract: The 1996 One Percent Initiative in Idaho would have limited property tax rates and the local government expenditures while shifting public school funding to the state. This study shows that Idaho’s property tax is unfair and that the proponents tried to use the voters dissatisfaction to reduce government spending. 1 “The Solution” The One Percent Initiative was on Idaho’s ballot in November. This initiative was offered as a solution to Idaho’s public finance problems. The 1996 version of the Initiative was much different and more complex than the One Percent Initiative in 1992. In fact, I would say that the 1996 One Percent Initiative was really five initiatives in one. The “brand name section” of the One Percent Initiative would limit the maximum property tax on property owners to 1% of the taxable value after exemptions are applied. Additional revenues beyond this 1% cap could be raised by local government only if a 67% super-majority of those voting support the idea. In 1992 these requirements made up the entire One Percent Initiative. The 1996 One-percent Initiative has four more provisions. The “second provision” within the 1996 One-percent Initiative would limit all increases in local taxing districts’ expenditures in a year to the “increase in the cost of living index used for computing Social Security benefits.” Any additional expenditures above this amount would require approval of a majority of the voters in the tax district. The “third provision” would mandate the provision of local fire, police, and emergency medical services at “a

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