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.