Representative Rod Furniss has been at it again. He’s been attacking the Idaho Freedom Foundation by writing articles and throwing around numbers he claims show the IFF is “bad.” But Furniss has a big problem telling the truth and getting the facts correct. When you’ve got to misrepresent reality to attack another, you’re not a very good ambassador for the truth. And Furniss is the poster child for a bad truth ambassador.
Recently, Furniss claimed in the Post Register Idaho was “good” because 1,000 people a day are moving here. Oops. Did he just say 1,000 people a day? That’s 365,000 people a year. But the 2010 and 2020 censuses show Idaho gained only 271,524 people in 10 years. According to legislative documents, about 94 people a day are moving to Idaho. So, Furniss exaggerates his number by a factor of 10.
Furniss also claims Idaho is “good” because it’s returning to taxpayers $220 million of an $800 million budget surplus with a “lower sales tax from 6% to 5.5%.” Furniss wrote, “Yep, on July 1, it will happen.” Oops. Did he just say the legislature reduced sales tax ½ percent starting July 1, 2021? Well, that’s not true either. Furniss apparently doesn’t even know what he’s voted for because the sales tax did not reduce ½ percent. It didn’t reduce at all. So, Furniss exaggerates this number by 100%. By the way, to make Idaho “great” instead of just “good,” Furniss should have championed returning the entire $800 million budget surplus instead of returning only $220 million. Returning only 28% of surplus tax money is neither good nor great.
Furniss also wrote that “we have a grocery tax that nets the state $140 million in revenue after credits on your tax returns that covers most, if not all, the tax. So, you could say the out-of-staters are paying for entering our great state.” Oops. Did he just say Idaho nets $140 million from out-of-staters paying sales tax on their grocery purchases? To generate $140 million in grocery sales tax revenue, out-of-staters would need to buy $2.3 billion in groceries. If out-of-staters were to buy $75 in groceries for a picnic, they would need to have 31 million picnics a year to generate $140 million in grocery tax revenue. This means out-of-staters spending $75 on groceries for a picnic would need to have 85,000 picnics each and every day 365 days a year.
Furniss is simply wrong again. Idaho raises about $85 million in net grocery tax revenue. So, Furniss overstates the net grocery tax revenue by 40%. And I don’t recall the last time I saw a bunch of out-of-staters parked at Broulims or Albertsons to buy milk, eggs and meat. Claiming out-of-staters pay for “most, if not all, the tax” on groceries net after tax credits is another Furniss “whopper.”
The fact is that Furniss is not a credible source for talking about issues that affect Idaho. You would think a legislator would know his stuff. But Furniss clearly lacks basic knowledge about stuff he as a legislator should know like the actual sales tax rate that applied on July 1, 2021. Time and time again, Furniss pretends to know the issues, opens his mouth, and inserts his foot.
Bryan Smith serves as the fourth vice chair of the Bonneville County Republican Central Committee and serves as vice chair of the Idaho Freedom Foundation board.