logo

Poll: Most Idahoans oppose Gov. Otter's veto of food tax repeal

Most Idahoans don’t like that GOP Gov. Butch Otter denied them a food sales tax break, a new Idaho Politics Weekly poll shows.

In late March, the GOP-controlled Legislature passed a bill that would have done away with the 6 percent sales tax on grocery items.

That would have saved, overall, Idahoans $201 million each year.

But Otter vetoed the bill, keeping the food tax in place.

IPW’s pollster, Dan Jones & Associates, finds in a new survey that 56 percent of Idahoans opposed Otter’s veto of the bill.

While 39 percent agree with the governor, and 5 percent don’t know.

In his veto letter to lawmakers, Otter noted that currently, Idaho pays out around $150 million annually in a state food tax credit to lower-income citizens – so while they pay the sales tax on food, they get some money back from the state if they file for it.

The bill would have repealed the credit, as well as cutting taxes on grocery store food.

Still, one year after the bill’s implementation date of July 2018, the state would be losing around $50 million a year between what it was paying out and what it was bringing in.

You can read about the bill here.

Otter argued in his letter that since everyone eats, everyone pays the grocery sales tax. And everyone should contribute something to the support of government since all use its services in one way or another.

But most Idahoans clearly disagree with the governor – they didn’t like his veto of the tax break.

Jones finds:

-- That Otter kept faith with his own Republican Party rank-and-file with his veto.

Republicans supported his veto, 51-44 percent, with 4 percent undecided.

Since the grocery tax credits mostly go to poorer Idahoans, some could argue it is a kind of social subsidy – which Republicans apparently don’t like.

While the GOP-controlled Legislature wanted to give the tax cuts, it also appears Idaho Republicans decided to support their party’s governor.

-- Democrats wanted the tax cut, 65-27 percent.

-- So did the political independents, 61-35 percent.

-- Those who belong to some other political party also opposed Otter’s veto of the tax cut, 66-28 percent.

Take party politics out of the equation, and just go with political philosophy, and Otter loses his majority support with Republicans:

-- Among those who said they are “very conservative” politically, they are against the Otter veto (in favor of the tax cut), 56-40 percent.

-- Those who said they are “somewhat conservative,” are for the tax cut, 49-46 percent.

-- The “moderates,” for the tax cut, 61-37 percent.

-- Those who said they are “somewhat liberal,” 61-35 percent favor the tax cuts.

-- And those who said they are “very liberal” politically, support the tax cuts 71-22 percent.

Jones polled 649 adults from May 4-18. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.85 percent.