A new non-partisan fiscal policy center is being launched in Idaho, with Mike Ferguson, former longtime state chief economist, chosen to head it. The Idaho Center for Fiscal Policy will be housed at the Mountain States Group, and is funded by a grant from the Northwest Area Foundation. “The whole idea behind the center is to provide an independent, nonpartisan, unbiased source of factual information and analysis relating to Idaho's fiscal policies,” Ferguson said, “in particular the revenue stream, but it'll also of necessity have to deal with issues on the spending side – basically that's why you raise revenue in the first place, the whole question of adequacy.”
Ferguson will be the new center's full-time, year-round director; he retired after more than 25 years with the state, and served as chief economist for six Idaho governors from both parties. “I am really excited about this opportunity,” Ferguson said. “I look forward to helping the public and Idaho's elected decision makers by providing helpful and easy-to-understand information that hasn't been readily available before.”
The new center will publish a “primer” explaining how Idaho's state budget is developed each year along with a report about the state's tax structure, when the center formally opens in the fall; the reports will be published on a new website to be unveiled then, and widely circulated to policy makers, the news media and citizens.
Chris Tilden, executive director of Mountain States Group, a non-profit 501c3 community resource organization, said, “It is important that citizens be involved in government, but understanding how government finance works is complicated. Few people understand the state's budget like Mike Ferguson. He is the perfect choice to lead this effort. Our aim is for the center to become the most trusted source for information about the way Idaho pays for the services we all depend on.”