Idaho would boost its rainy-day savings, under Gov. Butch Otter’s budget proposal, plunking another $35 million into the already capped Budget Stabilization Fund, which now has $135.7 million, and creating a “surplus eliminator” for the current year’s budget to put additional funds into the Public Education Stabilization Fund and the Higher Education Stabilization Fund. If current projections hold, that’d put another $29.3 million into PESF, which now has $62.7 million; and $7.3 million into the higher ed fund, which now contains about $1.2 million.
“Thank you for understanding that responsible management – personal or public – involves preparing for the future,” Otter told lawmakers. “Folks, during the most recent economic downturn we used almost all of the ‘rainy day’ funds we had wisely socked away to avoid interruption or long-term damage to public services, most notably education. We made the right decision these past two years to begin refilling those accounts, especially in light of the continuing instability in our national government’s finances and support. But we are not yet where we need to be in rebuilding our own fiscal buffer against that uncertainty.”
To make the additional deposits Otter wants into the Budget Stabilization Fund, he’s proposing legislation to raise the statutory cap on the fund from 5 percent of the state budget to 10 percent.