This week we learned that Idaho lawmakers have been discussing the state’s tax policy in secret meetings. It has more than a few people fuming. But if you think a couple illegal meetings is bad, wait until you learn what prompted the meetings in the first place.

Apparently Idaho lawmakers want cut taxes for their rich buddies again — leaving poor and middle-class taxpayers to pick up the bill.

What prompted the secret meetings?

House Speaker Scott Bedke (R-Oakley) told Betsy Russell of the Spokesman-Review that a secret “committee” began convening after GOP lawmakers attended a meeting in Utah to discuss that state’s flat income tax.

What does a flat tax do?

Flat income taxes put a higher proportionate tax burden on the poor and middle class. In other words, the rich pay less on the backs of people who make a fraction of their income.

According to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy analysis, Idaho has a slightly regressive tax code, meaning a higher tax burden is shouldered by the poor and middle class.*

Idaho progressive tax chart
Source: Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy

Utah, on the other hand, has a slightly more regressive tax scheme than Idaho.*

Utah tax chart
Source: Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy

The reason poor and middle-class people pay more taxes in Utah is due to the state’s five-percent, flat income tax. That’s the same flat tax that drew Idaho lawmakers to Utah for a meeting. That meeting prompted Idaho lawmakers to hold secret meetings that may have violated the state’s Open Meeting Laws.

So the question is: why would Idaho want to emulate Utah?

We don’t know.

Would Idaho lawmakers actually do such a thing?

Absolutely. At the end of the 2015 Legislative session, Bedke and Majority Leader Rep. Mike Moyle (R-Star) introduced a tax increase for the middle class that would have given the wealthiest Idahoans a major tax break, thereby reducing their tax burden and putting a greater burden on the poor and middle class.

Without a doubt, House leadership plans to do something similar in 2016 to curry favor with wealthy donors and the ultra-right — don’t forget, 2016 is an election year.

What do these politicans have against the poor and middle class?

We have no idea.

Regarding the secret meetings,  the “committee” ringleaders — Senate Tax Chairman Jeff Siddoway (R-Terreton) and House Tax Chairman Gary Collins (R-Nampa) — have promised to stop violating Idaho’s Open Meeting Laws.

* Here’s a chart describing progressive vs. regressive tax codes

Explanation of tax policy
Source Institute of Taxation and Economic Policy