Sen. Fulcher pushes plan to dump Idaho's grocery tax

BOISE, Idaho (KBOI) -- Thirty one states do not tax food and some lawmakers in Idaho say it's time the Gem State got totally rid of its grocery tax as well.

"That's the most regressive tax there is," said Sen. Russ Fulcher, (R) Meridian."It impacts the most vulnerable among us the hardest."

Sen Fulcher, who is also running for governor in the May primary election, and his senate colleague Cliff Bayer are promoting the idea of dumping Idaho's six percent tax on groceries starting July 1, 2016.

"We came to the conclusion that the right thing to do now is take that tax off at the register," Fulcher told KBOI News.

Currently, state law gives almost all Idahoans a credit when they file yearly tax returns to offset surcharges paid on groceries.

Next year that credit will be $100 for most people and $120 for seniors.

Fulcher says getting rid of the grocery tax altogether would cost the state about $26 million.

Because the proposal deals with taxes, the legislation must originate in the House of Representatives.

Fulcher says he has backers, but Speaker of the House Scott Bedke is not one of them.

Bedke told the Idaho Statesman he does not support the idea.

Fulcher says he's not trying to eliminate taxes on food to feed his campaign for governor.

"It's never the wrong time to do the right thing," he said.

KBOI News invited Gov. Butch Otter to comment on Fulcher's proposal. They are, after all, facing each other in the GOP gubernatorial primary.

But Otter's press secretary Jon Hanian said the governor prefers not to talk publicly about pending legislation.