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Eye On Boise

Latest numbers suggest $77 million state surplus, after covering all supplementals

Legislative budget director Cathy Holland-Smith noted that there are differing views of the $16.2 million that state tax revenues have lagged behind forecasts since the start of the fiscal year on July 1. Though that's only a 1.6 percent shortfall from the forecast, and lawmakers budgeted well below the forecast, it suggests that “that revenue forecast is not going to hold,” she said.

“Right now, on paper, there's $160 million … of additional revenue that's available compared to when you budgeted,” she told lawmakers on the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee. If Idaho then covered the $4.2 million in deficiency warrants that have been run up for fires and pest control, and funded all $30 million in supplemental budget requests for the current year that have come in, lawmakers still would have a $127.2 million surplus as they begin their budget-setting task for next year, if revenue continues to come in as predicted in the August state forecast.

“That's not likely to happen,” Holland-Smith said. Rather than growing by 6.4 percent, she said it's now looking like state revenue may grow at 4 or 5 percent, so the forecast could be revised. “It's likely that you're going to begin to see that pushdown,” she said. Because every 1 percent of the state general fund is $26 million, “You can quickly see where that would change,” she said. “We'd be probably right in the (range of) $50 million off of that $127 million surplus.”

That would leave lawmakers with a $77 million state budget surplus.

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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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