JFAC, the Legislature’s Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee, is holding its interim meeting in the state Capitol
today, as lawmakers begin looking ahead to the budgeting task they’ll face in
January when they convene. Among the figures reviewed thus far: One-time money
used in setting the fiscal year 2011 budget – the year now under way – that
won’t be available in fiscal year 2012 adds up to $270.7 million. Additional
costs to which the state’s already committed in 2012, from school enrollment
growth to a second year of a phased-in increase in state tax auditors to
collect uncollected taxes, add millions more, for a potential shortfall of
$340.2 million if revenues don’t grow.
The state’s general fund tax revenue is forecast to grow 4.7
percent in 2012, but lawmakers are leery about the estimate; so far, it’s been
closer to 2.8 percent.
Also, under terms of the federal stimulus funding, if state
revenue increases beyond the 2011 appropriation unexpectedly, more than half of
that must be funneled back into school and higher ed funding, per federal
“maintenance of effort” requirements. That money can’t go into reserve funds or
capital projects. And the state already faces $27.3 million in supplemental
budget request for the current year, for everything from Medicaid costs to the
catastrophic health care program to enrollment growth at the College of Western Idaho.
In addition, there are numerous requests from agencies for additional general
funds, for everything from making up one-time funding cuts that aren’t
sustainable to urgent needs to cover additional costs.