Wayne Hoffman, head of the Idaho Freedom Foundation, issued his own version of a state budget for the coming year today, calling for limiting state spending to a 2.6 percent increase and cutting taxes by $100 million to $200 million. “The budget we’re putting out today is a starting point,” Hoffman said. “We’d like to see a month-long conversation, even before the governor releases his budget in January, on what the state’s priorities are and how to get there. The priority should be providing tax relief to Idahoans, adequately funding state services, and doing what’s right for Idaho in a way that’s conservative and fiscally responsible.”
Hoffman called for cutting income taxes, removing the sales tax from groceries and expanding exemptions from the personal property tax on business equipment. He also called for cutting base budgets for all state agencies and programs by 2 percent next year, with the exception of public schools and higher education; funding raises at just 1 percent for state employees; and cutting two-thirds of the funding for the Catastrophic Health Care Program, or CAT fund, while putting $3 million into a new “community care pilot” program. His plan also calls for a 3 percent cut in funding for the state’s court system and a 3.5 percent budget cut for the Idaho State Police.
“If lawmakers write and pass conservative, smart budgets, they may have a tremendous opportunity to cut taxes by as much as $200 million,” Hoffman said. “That should be the ultimate goal for lawmakers in the coming months.”
The governor makes his executive budget proposal to the Legislature in January; lawmakers then spend much of their annual legislative session debating and setting the various parts of the state budget. Asked if his budget proposal indicates he’d like to run for governor, Hoffman said, “That’s not my thing.”
“We’ve taken all the budget requests that have been put before the governor’s office, examined all of them and created a budget,” he said. “I don’t want to run for governor. This is much more fun.”