Though there's been much talk among lawmakers of the potential for a tax increase to cope with the state's expected huge budget shortfall next year, Gov. Otter said, “I haven't heard one Idahoan say they want their taxes raised. If anyone wants to contribute more to state government, they're free to do so. But this is not the time for us to coerce those payments with more taxes.”
The governor said his proposed budget for fiscal year 2012 is “based on a modest but responsible 3 percent growth rate in our state revenue.” That's despite the fact that his own Division of Financial Management economists are forecasting 6.9 percent more in tax revenue will come into state coffers in fiscal 2012. Otter is proposing to budget to just the 3 percent figure - leaving $91 million on the table if the state's forecasts prove true. Lawmakers have been pessimistic about forecasts since revenues fell short in the past few years.
Most state agencies will take a budget hit in the coming year, Gov. Butch Otter said. “Most state agencies will see their budgets reduced by more than 2 percent under my recommendation,” he told lawmakers. The governor's proposed budget for next year calls for general-fund cuts that vary by agency but average 2.2 percent; they'd total $35.3 million.
Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.
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