There was no discussion or debate this morning as the state Board of Examiners voted unanimously to approve an additional $15 million transfer from the state’s general fund to the Tax Commission’s refund account; that brings the total transfer this spring to $45 million, which was the commission’s original request last month. “The refund account was running low and we needed to transfer what they wanted,” said Idaho Secretary of State Ben Ysursa, who presided over the meeting. “The thinking is people that file early get refunds. Like everybody else, we have our fingers crossed that we have a real good April in there.”
April is the biggest month of the year for state tax revenue collections. While December, January and February collections fell below projections, prompting lawmakers to make sharp cuts in the state budget, the real news about the state of Idaho’s budget comes from the April numbers, the month in which most people file their tax returns. Those numbers won’t be out until early May.
Wayne Hammon, budget director for Gov. Butch Otter, said the additional transfer was needed to avoid big delays in paying out refunds. “By moving the money forward, what we’ve done is we’ve sped up those returns,” he said. “The money is going to be released today.” Current projections from the Tax Commission show that the refund account likely will return $18 million to the general fund by the end of June. So the transfer “shouldn’t cost the state any money - it’s just a cash-flow problem,” Hammon said.