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A bit of overstatement?

St. Maries Rep. Dick Harwood surprised everyone in the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee on Wednesday when he followed up on a question about the DEQ budget by launching into a little speech, complete with statistics.

“Back in 1975, Shoshone County generated almost 27 percent of the state’s budget. Last year they generated 1.4 percent. I attribute a lot of that to the EPA and what they’ve done in the Silver Valley,” Harwood told the panel.

Asked later, Harwood said he was referring to the amount “produced in taxes” in the county, as a contribution to the state budget. He said he got his stats from the governor’s office. “I got it during campaign time last year,” he said.

But the governor’s Division of Financial Management was at a loss to explain the figures. “A quarter of the state’s tax revenue came from Shoshone County? I don’t think so,” said chief economist Mike Ferguson. “That number just doesn’t make any sense. What does that mean, anyway, that one county produced 27 percent of the state budget? There’s no way.”

Legislative revenue experts also couldn’t place the figure, noting that Idaho has 44 counties.

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Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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