Eye On Boise

Otter: ‘Working for more prosperous future’

Gov. Butch Otter is touting a national fiscal survey of states as proof that this year's legislative budget-setting decisions for 2011, including deep cuts to schools and other state programs, were the right ones, as other states are facing large shortfalls. "We are doing our best to help everyone through this rough patch," Otter said. "Like any family or any business, we are working for a more prosperous future while protecting what we have and positioning ourselves for a quicker and more robust recovery by not promising what we don’t yet know we can deliver.” Click below to read Otter's full release.

C.L. “Butch” Otter
GOVERNOR

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
June 3, 2010                                                                                              

NATIONAL SURVEY OF STATES INDICATES IDAHO BUDGET A SUCCESS

Idaho’s prudent and careful approach to budgeting minimizes shortfalls and prepares for recovery

(BOISE) – The Spring 2010 Fiscal Survey of States, comparing state budgets across the entire nation, shows that Idaho was among 40 states implementing mid-year budget cuts in fiscal year 2010 – which ends June 30 – and that many are facing budget shortfalls in both fiscal years 2011 and 2012.

Today’s report from the National Association of Budget Officers also shows that America’s state general fund revenues collectively are projected to climb 3.03% and that state spending is forecast to grow 3.47% in fiscal 2011.  That will leave state budgets throughout the country about $8 billion short next year.

But that won’t be the case in Idaho.

“Our focus is on growing our economy, not growing our budget. We’re determined to put taxpayers’ dollars to the best possible use while maintaining a stable tax and regulatory climate where businesses like those I’ve been cutting ribbons and signing turbine blades for lately have the chance to create career opportunities for more Idahoans,” Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter said. “The Idaho Constitution requires us to balance our budget each year, and we take that responsibility very seriously. But even beyond the constitutional mandate, as public servants we are committed to ensuring that Idaho’s State government lives within the people’s means.”

“By keeping our spending in check and planning carefully for the future, Idaho has avoided the worst of the recession mostly intact and is better prepared for quicker recovery than many other states,” Idaho Division of Finance Management Administrator Wayne Hammon said. “Working with the Legislature, we are operating smarter and more efficiently to help avoid imposing more financial burdens on Idaho taxpayers.”

Entering the last month of the fiscal year, Chief State Economist Mike Ferguson said Idaho’s General Fund revenue for fiscal 2010 clearly will end up “close to the amount used by the Legislature to set the 2010 budget.” And while some economic growth is expected in fiscal 2011, Ferguson said “it is fair to say that the 2011 forecast that I made last December may be too optimistic.”

While the national report indicates Idaho may face additional challenges in the coming year, we will not be among the 28 states expected to face budget deficits in fiscal year 2012 and beyond.

“There is no doubt that the past two years have been difficult for many Idahoans who rely on State services. We are doing our best to help everyone through this rough patch. Like any family or any business, we are working for a more prosperous future while protecting what we have and positioning ourselves for a quicker and more robust recovery by not promising what we don’t yet know we can deliver,” Governor Otter said. “Budgeting based on the rosiest possible projections is bad public policy. It’s a lot wiser to under-promise and then over-deliver when the time is right than to over-promise and leave folks in the lurch.”

Despite anticipated economic growth in fiscal 2011, Hammon said the State won’t immediately benefit in the form of increased tax revenue. “It will be every bit as tough for the State and State agencies as these past two years have been,” he said. “Fortunately, Idaho isn’t among those states that are facing huge deficits now and ongoing debts for years to come.”

A copy of the national report can be found at www.nasbo.org.

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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Russell covers Idaho news from the state capitol in Boise and writes the Eye on Boise blog.

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