The Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee this morning quietly accepted the report of the Legislature’s revenue assessment committee, which yesterday voted unanimously to go along with Gov. Butch Otter’s revenue estimates of $2.80822 billion for the current year, fiscal year 2014, and $2.987767 for the coming year, fiscal year 2015. The revenue committee said in its report that the governor’s number – though $50.2 million higher than the median of estimates submitted by members of the revenue committee – is “reasonable to begin the fiscal year 2015 general fund budgeting process.”
The presentation to JFAC from revenue committee Co-Chair Sen. Shawn Keough, R-Sandpoint, scheduled for half an hour, took less than 10 minutes. Now, the joint budget committee has moved into some of the nitty-gritty of the start of its budgeting work: Considering deficiency warrants, supplementals and recissions for the current budget year. First up was the annual bill for firefighting, which this year came to $10.4 million for the state general fund. JFAC voted unanimously to pay the bill.
The way fire costs are tallied and paid, there’s a time lag, so this payment reflects firefighting costs through June 30, 2013; next year, lawmakers will be asked to cover the rest of fiscal year 2013’s firefighting costs on state-protected lands, which are estimated at $15.6 million.