In fiscal year 2009, Idaho’s state general fund revenue was down by 15.3 percent from the year before, exceeding the 2002 drop of 14.3 percent. Wayne Hammon, Gov. Butch Otter’s budget director, told ATI that the forecast for the current year, fiscal year 2010, calls for another drop: Down another 3.6 percent. “That’s the first time since the state switched to annual appropriations in 1971 that that has occurred,” Hammon said. “This is the first time since ‘71 that we’ve had two negative years in a row.” He then ran down the big budget cuts many state agencies already took for this fiscal year, before Otter imposed additional holdbacks in September; and the additional cuts that came with the holdbacks. “There are less troopers on the road today,” Hammon said. “There are less prison guards … they’ve had to restructure how we maintain our prisons. We’re to the point where the cuts have started to have real impact.”
Now, more cuts loom. Hammon said that late last week, Otter sent a memo to all state agency heads, “and told them to prepare for additional cuts … not to make any spending unless it was absolutely necessary, not to fill positions unless they have an emergency situation, and to prepare for further holdbacks. Will that happen? We’re not sure.” The state will know in December, he said.