Idaho lawmakers are facing something they haven't seen in years: A 'manageable' budget. When they convene in January, they'll likely be able to balance next year's state budget without further cuts, and even make up some cuts and start refilling the state's drained reserve funds, according to figures unveiled Tuesday. They're still wary, however. “We'll certainly know a little bit more by the time the legislative session begins,” said Senate President Pro-Tem Brent Hill. “It's a long ways from where we were five years ago, but at least it shows we're headed in the right direction.”
After legislative budget chief Cathy Holland-Smith briefed Idaho's Legislative Council on budget scenarios including one assuming 3 percent revenue growth next year, state Legislative Services Director Jeff Youtz, a former longtime legislative budget chief, said he was struck by the fact that the scenarios all showed Idaho easily covering its costs next year, without having to dip into reserves to balance the books. “We haven't been able to do that in three years. We have some options,” Youtz said. “We've got a manageable budget situation.” Said Wayne Hammon, Gov. Butch Otter's budget chief, “We still have a lot of work to do on the budget, but it's not going to be as painful as it's been.” Otter's looking as possibly restoring some cuts to education and addressing hard-hit state employee compensation. You can read my full story here at spokesman.com.