There was an odd moment yesterday after the House GOP leadership press conference. Numerous members of the press stood gathered around Majority Leader Mike Moyle, R-Star, who was calling for reconvening JFAC and reopening budgets to cut them further, based on the April state revenue numbers. A few feet away, I stood interviewing Speaker Lawerence Denney, R-Midvale, who said quietly, “I don’t think that’s going to happen.” Moyle’s comments followed sharp retorts from Majority Caucus Chairman Ken Roberts, R-Donnelly, to the governor’s analysis of the April revenues, which Gov. Butch Otter had dubbed better than expected. That’s because they were down $31.5 million from the official forecast, but there’d been fears they could be down by as much as $125 million, which has happened in the past - April is by far the state’s biggest revenue month, due to income tax payments. It was Gov. Butch Otter’s chief economist, Mike Ferguson, who said the state “dodged a bullet” with the April numbers - a comment Roberts specifically belittled at the press conference.
Denney said gently that there’s a “difference of opinion in our caucus.” He said, “The omnibus bill that we passed gives the governor, I think, enough flexibility to get us through this fiscal year. … As the governor said, the numbers are not as bad as what he anticipated.” SB 1227, the omnibus budget bill, allows Otter to dip into various reserve funds to balance the budget if the anticipated $50 million ending balance doesn’t materialize at the end of the current fiscal year. “I think we’ve already made provisions - I think we’re going to be all right,” Denney said.