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Eye On Boise

Conference committee turns to ‘surplus eliminator’ idea…

The conference committee has set aside for now the question of including HB 310, the general-fund shift bill that cleared the Senate Transportation Committee yesterday, in the compromise transportation funding legislation, after Sen. Dean Cameron, R-Rupert, spoke about the demands on the state budget, including funding the already approved career ladder teacher pay bill, a five-year plan.

“Not counting HB 95, we’ve spent $23 million in tax relief bills this year,” Cameron said. “We don’t get any credit for it, because it’s all $500,000 here and a million and a half there. ... I guess I’m just imploring you, if we’re going to talk about in a serious manner a surplus-eliminator type approach, and I have some reluctance, I just don’t know how this Legislature does everything it wants to do.”

Now the panel has moved on to the House proposal for a “surplus eliminator.” It’s being presented by Rep. John Vander Woude, R-Nampa. He outlined a proposal to require unanticipated state revenues - currently at $88 million for this year - to be split 50-50 between transportation and additional deposits to the Budget Stabilization Fund, the state's main rainy-day account. “This will let us build up the reserves a little faster, and also put some money toward transportation,” Vander Woude said. “If we got $100 million, $120 million increased revenue and we’re not going to use that, but we’re going to raise your taxes $120 million? Look at, we’re going to take some of that additional revenue.” He added, “This is after the budgets have been set.”

Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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