Economy

Metal Chris / Flickr

An aggressive three-part proposal to eliminate sales tax on groceries, lower income taxes on Idaho's top earners while hiking the fuels tax by 7 cents per gallon has passed the Idaho House.

House lawmakers voted 53-17 Monday to send the bill to the Senate for approval.

Majority Leader Mike Moyle says the bill will boost Idaho's economy by attracting more businesses and providing families with more money they would have spent on grocery taxes.

Scott Graf / Boise State Public Radio

Real estate data company RealtyTrac says Boise is in better shape than most of the country when it comes to the difference between wages and home prices.

RealtyTrac looked at wage growth and home price growth from 2012 to 2014 in the nation’s 184-largest metro areas. Nationally, price growth outpaced wage growth 13-to-one. RealtyTrac vice president Daren Blomquist says in Boise, it was closer to four-to-one.

Samantha Wright / Boise State Public Radio

A three-part tax bill that would eliminate the grocery sales tax and lower income taxes on top earners has passed an Idaho House panel.

The bill by House Republican leadership would also include a seven-cent fuel tax increase, which would raise $65 million per year to address Idaho's transportation funding shortfall.

Under the tax plan, Idahoans in the top income tax bracket would see their rate drop from 7.4 percent to 6.7 percent.

Data, U.S. Census Bureau

The U.S. Census Bureau Thursday released its population estimates for 2014. Boise was number 20 in the Census’ list of top 20 fastest-growing metro areas. The area that includes Idaho’s capital as well as Nampa and Meridian grew 2.1 percent between July 2013 and July 2014.

Donnie Ray Jones / Flickr Creative Commons

The owners of Les Bois Park in Garden City say they'll close the facility permanently if the Idaho Legislature bans instant racing. A bill to do away with the betting terminals – which critics say too closely resemble slot machines – is making its way through the Legislature.

Eurupean Parliament / Flickr Creative Commons

This weekend, a group of hackers and computer programmers will meet in Boise for the annual Code Camp. For the first time, the event will feature a discussion about women in technology. Panelists will include Marianna Budnikova of MetaGeek, Rep. Melissa Wintrow, D-Boise, and Boise State professor Carrie Semmelroth.

Scott Graf / Boise State Public Radio

Hyde Park Books, a staple in the North End of Boise for 30 years, is closing its doors.

Marti Martino bought the used bookstore in 2013. She says the store has had just three owners in its long history.

She says she’s heartbroken for her family and for the community. “It’s kind of still raw for me. It’s been something we’ve been thinking about for quite some time,” Martino says. “We haven’t made this decision lightly by any manner. I understand it’s been an icon in the community for quite some time. But unfortunately it’s not sustainable.”

Scott Graf / Boise State Public Radio

Five years ago, CBS and Turner Broadcasting agreed to pay the NCAA nearly $11 billion for the broadcast rights for the men’s basketball tournament over 14 years.  It's the deal that puts games on CBS, TBS and TNT. 

Denny Moller is among those watching again this year.

“My wife says if we don’t have sports programming we wouldn’t have to have a TV,” Moller says. “I agree with her 100 percent.”

Courtesy: Boise Metro Chamber of Commerce

Alaska Airlines announced Wednesday it's adding a direct flight from Boise to Spokane beginning in August.

Southwest Airlines already operates a Boise to Spokane flight.

Alaska's President and CEO Brad Tilden made the announcement during a Boise Chamber of Commerce event. Tilden says Alaska will add two direct flights each day from Boise to Spokane on a 76-seat Bombardier Q400 plane.

screen grab google.com/maps

This month, two different companies proposed building new hotels across the street from one another in downtown Boise. If built, they would also be across the street from the existing Hampton Inn and a block from the Grove Hotel.  

Hopeful in NJ / Flickr

In just the last few weeks, Treasure Valley gas prices have increased by nearly 75 cents. Low oil prices caused the cost of gas to drop to less than $1.80 per gallon late last year. Oil prices are still low, but now gas is at $2.53.

Adam Cotterell / Information from the Tax Foundation

The Tax Foundation released its annual state tax comparison Tuesday. The non-partisan research group says Idahoans pay a little more than $3,000 a year per capita in state and local taxes. That means 9.5 percent of all Idaho personal income goes to local and state taxes. This puts Idaho right in the middle when you rank all the states, but the Gem State looks a little different if you compare it to its neighbors.

Idaho is among five U.S. states losing the largest amount of federal timber payments aimed at rural counties and school districts.

Congress let the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act expire in the fall of 2014, leaving Idaho counties and school districts with $26 million less than expected.

Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

The Basin School District in Idaho City has something most districts in the state don’t, preschool.

On Wednesdays, 12 preschoolers leave their small house-turned-school and walk across the playground to the high school’s music room. The children sit cross-legged in a circle and the music teacher hands out two brightly-colored sticks to each student. Music class for these preschoolers is all about rhythm, following directions, and giggling.

Congress let the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act expire in the fall of 2014, leaving Idaho counties and school districts with $26 million less than expected.

Idaho counties will bear the brunt of this loss. Seventy percent of Secure Rural Schools money goes to counties for things like road maintenance. Thirty percent goes to school districts.

Data from the Idaho Association of Counties shows Idaho County will lose more money than any other county, nearly $7.3 million.

Curt Bowen

We’ve been following an Idaho non-profit over the years as it helps farmers in Guatemala grow more sustainable crops. We first learned of Semilla Neuva - that’s “New Seed” in Spanish - in 2011. The fledgling group was giving advice on farming techniques to Guatemalan farmers.

screen grab wallethub.com

According to the financial website WalletHub, Idaho is the 9th worst state for women. Lists ranking states on various things come out almost daily and we don’t often report on them, and WalletHub in particular is a list juggernaut. But this one caught our eye.

Idaho was dead last for women’s preventative health care, but in the middle of the state rankings for women’s health care overall.

Devin Ferrell / Hackfort, Treefort Music Fest

The technology-centered offshoot of Treefort Music Fest, Hackfort, got about as high-profile an endorsement an event can ask for.

During his address at Boise State University in January, President Barack Obama gave a shout-out to the event about halfway through his speech.

Miguel Vieira / Flickr Creative Commons

Today’s trivia question: what does Idaho have a larger share of than any other state?

There’s a good chance you’re thinking “potatoes” right now, but according to Stateline it’s “forest and conservation technicians.” This branch of the Pew Charitable Trusts’ research team, has published a map of the most unique job in each state.

Sara Creech has grown dependent on farming. She started out planting an orchard of fruit trees: apples, peaches, cherries and pears. She added berry bushes and rows of vegetables.

And then she bought her first chickens.

"A lot of people call chickens the gateway animal," says Creech, who lives in rural North Salem, Ind. "Like once you have a chicken on the farm, then you end up getting sheep on the farm, and then you end up getting horses, and cows. And then it just explodes from there."

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