- Associated Press - Thursday, January 19, 2017

BOISE, Idaho (AP) - Idaho gubernatorial candidate Russ Fulcher says Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter is being misleading when he claims that he’s cut $1 billion in tax relief over the past 11 years.

Fulcher says that Otter is taking credit for a tax cut that the Republican governor opposed and even vetoed at one time.

Fulcher, a former state senator from Meridian, says he helped push the grocery tax credit in 2007 by pairing up with then Rep. Cliff Bayer, also a Republican from Meridian. Otter then killed the proposal, forcing Fulcher to bring the bill back once again in 2008 - which Otter signed into law.

“Having lived through this battle, if it wasn’t for me and Bayer, we wouldn’t have a grocery tax credit,” Fulcher said. “I’m not running against the governor, but I do think it’s important to remind him of this.”

The grocery tax credit has helped provide more than $633 million in tax relief to Idaho citizens since it was enacted. An Associated Press review found that the grocery tax credit has created the biggest savings compared to all other tax cuts Otter has approved.

The popular program allows every Idaho resident to receive a $100 tax credit, or $120 for those over 65, to help pay sales tax on groceries.

The next biggest tax-relief measure has been cutting individual and corporate tax rates, which has resulted in a combined $213.4 million in tax relief over the past 10 years. Additional sales tax exemptions and business incentives made up the rest to reach about $1 billion.

Otter’s spokesman Mark Warbis declined to comment, adding that the office agreed with the AP’s review of the governor’s history of tax cuts.

Otter is not running for re-election when his third term expires in 2018. So far, the only candidates to announce they’re running for the seat are Fulcher and Lt. Gov. Brad Little.

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