New AARP Survey of Idahoans 50+ Finds Overwhelming Support for Ending Business Tax Exemptions, Increasing Tax on Beer, Wine & Cigs
BOISE, Idaho, Feb. 28, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- While "new revenue" seem to be dirty words to most Idaho lawmakers, the same doesn't hold true for their largest group of voters, the 50+. It turns out the age group may know a thing or two about tackling Idaho's budget woes, and a new survey of Idaho's 50+ released by AARP Idaho today shows lawmakers just how to do it - close some business tax loopholes and hike beer, wine, liquor, and cigarette taxes.
"Idaho's 50+ know that you don't balance a budget by ignoring all the possible revenue options," said Jim Wordelman, State Director for AARP in Idaho. "State lawmakers are poised to swing the budget ax again to resolve Idaho's budget woes, but those voters who put them in office clearly think looking at new revenue is a better approach for Idaho."
AARP argues that some of the cuts being proposed, such as the roughly $40 million in cuts to Medicaid, could leave Idaho on the hook for a much higher bill, forcing people into expensive hospital emergency rooms for basic care and seeing some elderly pushed prematurely into nursing homes, which can be about five times as expensive as providing the same care at home and in the community.
The survey, Voices of 50+ Idaho (pg. 11, http://bit.ly/gBePOb), conducted during January of this year, detailed some of the age group's support or opposition for several revenue options to avoid cuts to services, finding:
- Closing loopholes for certain businesses: 61% support (Idaho loses roughly $1.6 billion in revenue per year through tax loopholes for businesses).
- Increasing the tax on liquor, beer and wine: 60% support (Idaho's beer and wine and taxes haven't been raised in nearly 40 years, the move could bring in over $20 million).
- Increasing the cigarette tax: 58% support (the move is estimated to bring in close to $50 million in additional revenue).
- Increasing the income tax for households earning over $250,000: 58% support.
"There are big moneyed special interest groups lining the halls of the State Capitol to keep the status quo - this survey says the most powerful voting group in the state thinks there's a better way," added Wordelman. "Idaho can very easily go from a budget shortfall to a budget surplus if there is the political will and leadership to do so."
Currently, all Idaho state agencies are readying plans to trim their budgets by 5% to fill the shortfall, with the state's Medicaid program bearing the brunt by having nearly $40 million slashed. When the federal match to the program is factored in, the program could see cuts as high $150 million.
AARP is Idaho's largest membership organization with 180,000 members.
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SOURCE AARP Idaho