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Eye On Boise

State budget: ‘It really is good news, but it’s cautionary’

Joint budget committee members Sens. Joyce Broadsword, Shawn Keough and Dean Cameron listen to presentations in Boise on Thursday. (Betsy Russell)
Joint budget committee members Sens. Joyce Broadsword, Shawn Keough and Dean Cameron listen to presentations in Boise on Thursday. (Betsy Russell)

As Idaho lawmakers begin to plan for setting the fiscal year 2013 budget, they'll have a beginning balance left over from the current year, because state tax revenues came in so far above the amount for which they budgeted. Under current revenue forecasts, that'll be $130.3 million, legislative budget director Cathy Holland-Smith told JFAC this morning. "This $130 million ... assumes that the revenue forecast will stay," she said. "I think we can all assume that it will go down."

Then, if state revenues next year grow by a hypothetical 3 percent, $26 million is automatically transferred to the state's budget stabilization fund, the next $15 million bump in the grocery tax credit is funded, and non-discretionary adjustments are covered to keep state services at their current level, lawmakers could cover all costs and still have $79.3 million left over. State agencies have submitted $147 million in requests for new line items vying to be funded from that pot next year, including restoring cuts; other potential uses include pay hikes for state employees who've long gone without; further replenshing drained rainy-day funds; or other moves. "It's going to be the call of the Legislature," Holland-Smith said.

If state tax revenues next year grow by 4 percent rather than 3 percent, the amount available after covering costs for current service levels grows to $105.4 million. If it's 5 percent, the amount grows to $131.4 million.

"It really is good news, but it's cautionary, because there is a significant pent-up demand," Holland-Smith said.




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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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