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.”