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Why they did it

Wonder why the Legislature adopted the governor’s revenue projections, when their own estimates were $43.7 million higher for the current fiscal year and $77.3 million higher for next year?

“Taking a cautious approach was warranted in this case,” said Rep. Scott Bedke, R-Oakley. “If we have excess revenue at the end, that’s not a bad thing.” Added Rep. Kathy Skippen, R-Emmett, “We’d rather be cautious than foolish.”

The Legislature’s Economic Outlook Committee voted 7-2 last week – along party lines – to adopt the governor’s figures despite its own higher estimates. Then, on Friday, the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee adopted that proposal on a 17-2 vote, with just Reps. Margaret Henbest, D-Boise, and Shirley Ringo, D-Moscow, objecting.

House Democrats then put out a statement opposing the move. “This was set artificially low,” Henbest said in the statement. “When they take money off the table like this, we can’t change direction and fix some of the systemic problems that are at the root of our unmet needs.” She predicted another “surprise” surplus next year, “And nobody knows who will end up with most of that,” she said.

The party split wasn’t complete on the issue, however. In the JFAC vote, the two Democratic senators, Sens. Elliot Werk, D-Boise, and Bert Marley, D-McCammon, voted in favor of adopting the committee’s report.

The projection matters because it’s the basis for setting the state budget – and determines how much lawmakers can plan to spend.


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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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