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Posts tagged: Idaho state tax revenue

Idaho’s year-end budget surplus: $44.4M

Year-end state tax revenue figures announced yesterday showed that Idaho ended up with $7.2 million more than expected at the end of the fiscal year June 30, but the state actually has a significantly larger budget surplus than that. Here’s why: This year’s state budget didn’t call for spending all the tax revenue the state expected to collect. Instead, $36 million was transferred to various budget stabilization funds, and another $44.4 million was left unspent, creating a year-end balance or surplus.

The monthly Budget and Revenue Monitor from the Legislature’s budget staff lays out the figures; you can see it here. It shows the ending balance, or surplus, at the end of fiscal year 2014 at $44.4 million, $17.6 million higher than was anticipated at the close of this year’s legislative session.

Factors pushing the number higher, aside from the increased revenue collections, are year-end reversions of unspent money from various state agencies, including $6.4 million from the Catastrophic Health Care Program due to lower than anticipated costs; $5.9 million from other agencies; and $1.6 million in other year-end adjustments, all adding to the surplus. (If you’re doing the math, the Legislature’s budget figures already counted part of the $7.2 million based on revenue reports that came in before the Legislature adjourned; so by its calculation, the additional year-end boost from revenues was $3.6 million beyond expectations rather than $7.2 million.)

When lawmakers return to town in January, they’ll need to act on a series of deficiency warrants largely consisting of $17.5 million for firefighting costs; that would still leave more than $26 million from the surplus. An additional reversion from Medicaid also is expected to boost the total in August or September.

June tax revenues beat projections

Idaho state tax revenues came in strong in June, topping forecasts by 2.9 percent or $8.4 million. That put the state at $2.8154 billion in general fund tax collections for the fiscal year, which ended July 1; that’s 0.3 percent above the January 2014 forecast, or $7.2 million higher for the year.

Idaho’s general fund grew 2.4 percent from fiscal year 2013 to fiscal 2014, slightly faster than the predicted 2.1 percent. Individual income taxes were the strongest growth area, beating projections by $9.5 million, while sales taxes were slightly below forecasted growth, but still up 3.2 percent from the previous year. In 2013, sales tax collections grew 8 percent; the state Division of Financial Management noted that part of the reason for the slower growth in fiscal 2014 is that it’s the first year $18.9 million a year was diverted from sales tax collections to cover the cost of personal property tax relief legislation. Without that diversion, sales taxes would have shown 4.9 percent growth.

Gov. Butch Otter hailed the year-end figures, saying, “I’m proud that Idaho is committed to living within the taxpayers’ means, and I’m proud of the Legislature and our state employees for ensuring that commitment is met.” You can see the monthly General Fund Revenue Report here

May state tax revenues beat forecast

May state tax revenues came in 1.6 percent above forecasts, leaving the state pretty much at the forecast year-to-date; you can see the state Division of Financial Management’s General Fund Revenue Report here. Meanwhile, the Legislature’s monthly Budget & Revenue Monitor shows that the $2.7 million in extra revenues in May puts the state on track for an expected ending cash balance at the end of the fiscal year, July 1, of $26 million, even after $34.5 million is transferred into reserve funds.

April shortfall means amount left on table in next year’s state budget falls from $79.4M to $78.6M

The Budget & Policy Analysis division of the state’s Legislative Services office has come out with its monthly General Fund Budget Monitor, which looks at the latest state tax revenue receipts and shows how that compares to the amounts lawmakers have budgeted. With the April shortfall compared to projections, the monitor shows that the projected balance at the end of the current fiscal year on July 1 drops from $26.9  million to $26 million, and the projected year-end balance at the end of fiscal year 2015 – the amount left unspent in the budget approved by lawmakers and the governor – falls from $79.4 million to $78.6 million. That's aside from deposits into state rainy-day accounts. You can read the report here.

April state tax revenues fall 4.1% below forecast, putting state about even for year

Idaho state tax revenues came in 4.1 percent below projections for April, the biggest month of the year; because they’d been running ahead prior to that, the result is that year-to-date state tax revenues are just 0.2 percent below forecasts, almost right on the mark. The April shortfall of $18.6 million was largely due to lower than expected individual income tax receipts, which were 7.1 percent below the forecast; corporate taxes also missed forecasts, falling 5.1 percent below expectations. Sales taxes slightly beat the forecast; you can read the full Idaho General Fund Revenue Report here.

March state tax revenues beat projections by 7.7%

Idaho’s state tax revenues in March came in $11.1 million over projections – 7.7 percent – and 12 percent higher than March of 2013. That puts year-to-date tax revenue at $1.9217 billion, which is 0.8 percent ahead of forecasts and 4.7 percent higher than at this point last year. You can see the full General Fund Revenue Report here for March from the governor’s Division of Financial Management.

Strong state tax revenues beat forecast for the month

The general fund revenue report is out for February, and the numbers are positive – state tax revenues came in 28.6 percent ahead of forecasts. February’s $27.5 million surplus is enough to offset the previous month’s $25.9 million shortfall; year to date, general fund receipts are now $3.6 million more than forecast. You can read the full report here. Individual income tax collections were the strongest category, coming in more than three times higher than expected, according to the governor's Division of Financial Management.

January state tax revenues down, but still close to target for fiscal year to date…

Idaho’s latest monthly general fund revenue report is out, and January state tax revenues came in 8.7 percent below the revised forecast, for a year-to-date shortfall of 1.4 percent. However, year-to-date receipts are still 4.1 percent higher than the same period in fiscal year 2013. Corporate income tax collections were significantly down for the month, partly because a few large payments pushed refunds for the month to twice the expected level. Individual income taxes for the month were below forecast by $14.9 million, or 8.8 percent, but year-to-date, they’re just 1.7 percent below forecast. Sales taxes came in 4.2 percent below the forecast for January, but are still close to on target for the year to date, at 0.7 percent below forecast. You can see the full report here.

November state tax revenues come in $8M ahead of forecast

Idaho’s state tax revenues for November came in $8 million higher than forecast, thanks largely to stronger than expected individual and corporate income tax collections, which were high enough to offset a slightly lower than anticipated sales tax month. The month’s revenue figures were 4.2 percent over forecast. For the fiscal year to date, tax revenues are now almost exactly on forecast, running ahead by $6.5 million, or 0.6 percent. You can see the full monthly General Fund Revenue Report here.

October state tax revenues slip below forecasts, putting state about even

Idaho’s state tax revenue fell 5.6 percent below forecasts in October, a month after it swelled 6.4 percent ahead of forecasts in September. The result: Tax revenues are coming in just about as forecasted. The October revenues were down $12.8 million from the forecast; September’s were up nearly $16 million over the forecast. Year to date, Idaho has now collected just 0.2 percent less than was forecast for this point in the fiscal year.

Last month, Gov. Butch Otter hailed the strong September revenues as news that “validates our belief … that lowering taxes encourages more economic activity.” This month’s General Fund Revenue Report came out today just after 5 p.m.; Otter hasn’t yet commented on it. You can see the full report here.

Tax revenues surge in September, putting state ahead for fiscal year

Idaho’s state tax revenue surged nearly $16 million ahead of forecasts in September, beating the forecasted level by 6.4 percent. The extra revenue was enough to more than offset shortfalls compared to forecasts for the past two months, putting the state 1.6 percent ahead of forecasted revenue for the fiscal year to date.

Nearly every revenue category beat its projection in September. Individual income tax receipts were 11.3 percent ahead; corporate taxes were 5.5 percent over forecasts; and sales taxes beat forecasts by 3.2 percent. You can see the state’s full general fund revenue report here for the month.

Gov. Butch Otter touted the news when he addressed the Idaho Licensed Beverage Association annual convention today, drawing some appreciative whistles after he said, “We were off about $16 million – we brought in $16 million more than we thought we would.” He noted that income taxes were a big driver of that, even though Idaho lowered its top rates for both individual and corporate income taxes two years ago. Otter said the news “validates our belief … that lowering taxes encourages more economic activity.”

He told the liquor purveyors that just as “you’ve seen people try to drink themselves sober,” he doesn’t buy economic theories that say “the government can spend themselves rich,” and defended tax cuts Idaho’s granted the past two straight years, cutting into state revenues despite tough economic times and forcing “some tough decisions.” Said Otter, “In the long run, it paid off because we really created a climate for growth.”

Catching up: From Denney eyeing higher office to extension of county payments…

Catching up on some of the news from while I was gone over the past week:

DENNEY EYES HIGHER OFFICE:  Former Idaho House Speaker Lawerence Denney, R-Midvale, filed initial paperwork to run for Idaho Secretary of State, an office long held by incumbent Ben Ysursa, a Republican; you can read an AP report here on Denney’s move. Ysursa hasn’t said yet whether he’ll be seeking re-election; in an email to Idaho Statesman columnist Dan Popkey, he said, “I intend to make my future plans known within the next few weeks. Until then I really have no comment.”

STATE SURPLUS BIGGER THAN REPORTED? Former state chief economist Mike Ferguson has analyzed state revenues and concluded that in an apples-to-apples comparison, Idaho’s surplus is actually bigger than has been reported. At the close of fiscal year 2013 on June 30, the state’s general fund had an ending balance of $165.3 million, $105.3 million higher than expected at the end of the 2013 legislative session. After transfers to reserve accounts and taking into account law changes, Ferguson concludes, “The current DFM General Fund revenue forecast for FY 2014, at 2.1% growth over FY 2013 revenue, appears to be unduly pessimistic. At 3.1% revenue growth the ongoing General Fund surplus estimate would be $74.1 million, and at 4.1% revenue growth the ongoing surplus estimate would be $111.6 million.” You can read his full analysis here.

ONE INSURER WITHDRAWS: The only for-profit insurer scheduled to offer plans on Idaho’s exchange withdrew on Sept. 26; with Altius' exit, Idaho's remaining insurers will offer 61 plans for individuals, 55 small group health plans for small business, 13 individual dental plans and 17 small group dental plans. You can read about that move here.

COUNTY PAYMENTS EXTENDED: A one-year extension of the county payments under the Secure Rural Schools Act, the remainder of the Craig-Wyden law that has been offsetting millions lost to rural counties and school districts since federal timber harvests fell, cleared Congress and headed to the president’s desk – tucked into a bill about helium. “Passage of the Helium Stewardship Act is a victory for the entire state of Idaho,” said Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo; rural schools and counties would get $270 million under the bill. “This fix does not change the need for a long-term solution that provides a consistent mechanism for the federal government to meet its obligation to rural communities accommodating federal lands, and I will continue to work with Senator Risch and all my colleagues to achieve this objective,” Crapo said; you can read his full statement here

August state tax revenues just below forecast, 3.5% above last August

Idaho state tax revenues came in very close to the forecast in August, falling just one-tenth of a percent below it, a difference Gov. Butch Otter's Division of Financial Management dubbed “negligible.” Tax revenues for the month were 3.5 percent above the previous August; for the fiscal year to date, which is two months old, revenues are running 3.8 percent above last year, but 1 percent behind forecasts. Individual income tax was $4.2 million below forecast for the month, but corporate income tax was $3.6 million ahead, while sales taxes slightly exceeded expectations. You can read the full monthly General Fund Revenue Report here.

July state tax revenues below revised forecast, but 4.2% ahead of last year

Idaho’s July state tax revenues are in for the first month of the fiscal year, and they’re 1.8 percent below the revised forecast for the month – but 4.2 percent above last year at this time. The new forecast for fiscal year 2014 general fund revenues is for $2.8088 billion, a 2.1 percent increase over the previous fiscal year. It’s for a  higher amount than the January forecast, but a smaller percentage increase – mainly because fiscal year 2013 revenues came in much stronger than forecast. The new forecast also reflects the impact of a $20 million state expense in fiscal year 2014 to reimburse local governments for a business property tax cut. You see the DFM’s full monthly General Fund Revenue Report here.

Gov. Butch Otter issued a statement on the revised forecast, reiterating that he doesn't want Idaho's state government to grow as fast as its economy; click below for his full statement.

Idaho closes fiscal year with surplus, puts $85M more into rainy-day fund

Idaho’s state tax revenue came in 6.5 percent ahead of forecast in June, closing out the fiscal year with a $92.5 million surplus over the $2.658 billion the state had expected to take in for the year. That’s 3.5 percent; it’s a 6.3 percent increase from the previous fiscal year.

The higher-than-predicted tax revenues also triggered legislation sought by Gov. Butch Otter this year to transfer $85.4 million of the year-end balance into the state’s main savings account, the Budget Stabilization Fund. That boosts the total in the account to more than $135 million, a move Otter lauded today.

“Don’t get the idea that we’re flush just because we ended the budget year with a few extra bucks,” Otter declared. “We have plenty of needs and plenty of priorities. But the best way to ensure economic stability and continued growth is to remain prudent, cautious and responsible in how we allocate every one of those taxpayer dollars.”

The state’s surplus comes as agencies continue to struggle with years of budget cuts that haven’t been restored, and school districts across the state have increasingly sought local property tax hikes to make up shortfalls in state funding.

Otter’s office said in a statement that the year-end results “show the wisdom of his shared commitment with the Legislature to ensuring government does not grow as fast as Idaho’s economy and to continue refilling the state’s various rainy day funds,” adding, “That’s especially true in light of continuing uncertainty about the federal budget, federal fiscal policies and their impact on economic recovery.” You can read the General Fund Revenue Report here.  Click below for a report from AP reporter John MIller, who notes that this makes the third straight year state tax revenues have exceeded forecasts, and that every category of collections, from sales taxes on retail goods to personal and corporate income taxes, came in at levels higher than originally estimated last year.

Catching up…

After a week away, it’s time to catch up. Here’s some of the news from the past week while I was gone:

* Both Coeur d’Alene and Pocatello passed city ordinances to ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in housing, employment and public accommodations. The Coeur d’Alene City Council’s 5-1 vote came late Tuesday night; the Pocatello City Council’s 4-2 vote came early Friday morning. That marks the fifth and sixth Idaho cities, including Boise, to pass such ordinances, after the state Legislature refused for seven straight years to enact such protections statewide.

* First District Congressman Raul Labrador dropped out of an eight-member bipartisan group working toward compromise immigration reform legislation in the House, and said he’ll oppose the group’s legislation, due to differences over how to pay for immigrants’ health care. “We just have a different philosophy,” Labrador told reporters. “The Democratic Party believes that health insurance is a social responsibility of the nation. I believe that health insurance is an individual responsibility. And that’s a really hard philosophy to mesh.” You can read more here. Today, the Coalition for Immigrant Rights of Idaho plans a rally at Meridian City Hall to protest Labrador’s move.

* The family of Bowe Bergdahl, the American soldier from Hailey captured four years ago in Afghanistan and still held as a prisoner of war, received a letter from their son after working with the International Committee of the Red Cross. The family said it was “greatly relieved and encouraged by this letter;” read the full story here from the Associated Press.

* Idaho’s latest tax revenue figures, for the month of May, came in 2.4 percent below forecast, but that followed a big surplus in April, the state’s biggest month for tax revenue, bringing the state to 3 percent above forecast for the fiscal year to date; Idaho’s fiscal year ends June 30. You can see the general fund revenue report here.

Ferguson: Idaho on track to open 2014 legislative session with $162M surplus

Former longtime chief state economist Mike Ferguson analyzed the latest state tax revenue news – which showed revenues surging 13.2 percent over forecasts for April, the biggest tax revenue month of the year – and concluded that lawmakers likely will have $162 million more on hand when they convene their 2014 legislative session than they thought they would two months ago, at the close of this year’s session. “While the numbers will change (for example, we don’t yet know actual May and June revenue numbers, and we don’t know what revised forecast growth rate will be used for FY 2014), it is clear there will be substantially more revenue available than policymakers thought less than two months ago,” Ferguson writers. “How this additional revenue is utilized will depend on Idaho’s public policy priorities.”

The tax revenue jump is big news for the state, Ferguson writes. “This is a significant departure from the revenue forecasts the FY 2013 and FY 2014 budgets are based on, and it has significant implications for the fiscal condition Idaho’s state budget faces in those two years (and beyond).” You can read his full analysis here. Ferguson is now the director of the Idaho Center for Fiscal Policy.

Idaho’s state tax revenues for April surge 13.2 percent over forecast

Idaho’s general fund tax revenue in April – the biggest revenue month of the year – came in 13.2 percent ahead of forecasts, with collections surging $56.4 million above the expected level, the largest margin by far of any month this fiscal year. That puts the state $79.05 million ahead for the fiscal year, for an overall year-to-date surplus over forecasts of 3.5 percent, according to the state Division of Financial Management.

You can read the full April General Fund Revenue Report here. April marked the second month of this fiscal year in which all revenue categories beat their respective targets, with individual income tax coming in the strongest, at $35 million over the forecast. Corporate income taxes were $14.4 million ahead of forecasts for the month, while sales taxes were closest to projections, at $3.5 million over. For the fiscal year to date, Idaho has collected $2.32 billion in general fund tax revenues, well above both the $2.24 billion forecast  and last year’s mark at the same time of $2.17 billion.

Idaho tax revenue for March beats forecast by 4.4 percent

State tax figures are in for the month of March, and they beat the forecast by 4.4 percent or $5.8 million. That’s the third consecutive month that tax revenues came in ahead of expectations, and it pushes the fiscal year-to-date surplus to $22.6 million, which is 1.2 percent ahead of the projection. Still ahead is April, the biggest revenue month of the year. You can read the DFM’s monthly Idaho General Fund Revenue Report here.

A newsy week for summertime, from state legal woes and wins to Olympic cheer…

For the dog days of summer, there was a fair amount of news happening in Boise last week while I was off on vacation. Here are some highlights:

* Public records revealed that the state has sent another $15,760 payment to the private law firm it hired to defend the state Transportation Board against a wrongful-firing lawsuit from former state Transportation Director Pam Lowe. Lowe, the department's first female chief, recently settled her lawsuit, which charged both gender discrimination and political pressure; the settlement hasn't yet been disclosed. The state's legal bill to the law firm of Holland & Hart now adds up to $556,239.

* U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Candy Dale sided with Idaho Gov. Butch Otter in a lawsuit challenging the federal listing of slickspot peppergrass as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. The court decision requires the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to revisit the issue; a jubilant Otter said he was “encouraged” that the court agreed the federal decision was “flawed.” The plant, a native desert flower found only in small parts of southern Idaho, was declared threatened in 2009 despite several years of efforts by the Otter Administration to develop a conservation plan. The primary threats to the rare flower are trampling by livestock, off-road vehicles, agriculture and other human activity.

* The Idaho Department of Lands announced that fiscal year 2012 saw a record timber harvest of 330 million board feet of timber from state endowment trust lands; that's about 35 percent of the total timber harvest in the state, though state-managed forests are only about 5 percent of Idaho's forest lands, and it's 150 percent of the five-year average for state timber harvest. However, it's only 98.5 percent of the five-year average for state timber harvest receipts; that's due to lower timber prices that have dropped significantly in the last five years.

* An archaeological dig by the University of Idaho in the heart of downtown Boise found artifacts dating back 130 years in an old well discovered on the Basque Block; items recovered included an intact decorative bottle of Gilt Edge ladies' shoe polish, marbles and jacks, and the head of a porcelain doll.

* A state prison instructor was arrested for having sexual contact with a prisoner, a felony; the female instructor taught at both the South Boise Women's Correctional Center and the South Idaho Correctional Institution, a minimum-security prison for men south of Boise.

* Boise Police raided six massage parlors in a sweep resulting in charges ranging from prostitution to licensing violations.

* State tax revenues for July came in 1.5 percent below forecast, $3.4 million down. All but one category, miscellaneous revenue, missed the forecast, which called for the month's general tax revenues to rise by 6.4 percent over last year's July revenues; instead, it was 1.5 percent lower.

* Idaho has seen an increase in fatal motorcycle accidents, with preliminary data showing 13 motorcycle deaths in the state so far, compared to six at the same time in 2011. Six of the 13 were in July. Most of those who died were men over age 40; those who went through the state-sponsored motorcycle skills training, STAR, or Skills Training Advantage for Riders, had a 79 percent lower risk of being involved in a crash.

* Olympic cycling gold medalist Kristin  Armstrong was welcomed home to Boise by a crowd of more than 1,000 at a group bike ride and celebration on Saturday, at which Gov. Butch Otter proclaimed it “Kristin Armstrong Day” in the state, and Boise Mayor Dave Bieter declared Armstrong's almost-2-year-old son Lucas honorary mayor. It was also Armstrong's 39th birthday.

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About this blog

Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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