Veto Overturned on Property Tax Relief/School Election Bill

A political showdown with big implications for public education funding at the local level played out this week after Gov. Brad Little’s veto of House Bill 292. The legislation offers $355 million in property tax relief but also eliminates standalone school elections in March — the most important date for school essential bond and levy elections.

Little vetoed the bill on Monday, but lawmakers overrode his action with a 58-12 vote in the House on Wednesday and a 28-7 vote in the Senate on Thursday. Both votes fell largely along party lines.

IEA supported Little’s veto and urged lawmakers to find another way to provide the badly-needed tax relief without harming already under-resourced public schools.

“This bill cripples school districts and their ability deliver an education to students even more,” IEA President Layne McInelly said in a press statement supporting the veto on Monday. “Providing property tax relief and maintaining — or even expanding — school district funding tools are not mutually exclusive concepts. Lawmakers should not treat them as such.”

Action on other legislation slowed to stand-still while the political maneuvering between Little and leadership in the House and Senate played out. However, lawmakers’ overturn of Little’s veto cleared the way for lawmakers to wrap up business on most of the remaining legislation on their docket — including budget bills providing funding for significant pay raises for all Idaho educators (see related HOTLINE story).

Lawmakers’ overturning of Little’s veto, challenging for school districts reliant on bonds and levies to fund operational costs, was driven largely by a determined and cohesive majority in the Idaho House.

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