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Eye On Boise

JFAC reviewing grim budget figures

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.

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Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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