The Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee this morning voted unanimously to accept the report of the joint Economic Outlook & Revenue Assessment Committee, which, after two days of hearings, voted yesterday to accept Gov. Butch Otter’s revenue forecast for next year which predicts a 5.5 percent increase in state tax revenue.
“We listened to representatives of the major economic sectors of our state, and we worked the last two years to try to get people to come and visit with us that are on the front lines in their business sectors, and we’ve gained quite a bit of insight from that,” Sen. Shawn Keough, R-Sandpoint, co-chair of the revenue committee and vice-chair of the Senate Finance Committee, told JFAC.
Rep. Marc Gibbs, R-Grace, the House Appropriations vice-chair and Keough’s co-chair on the revenue committee, noted that the revenue report isn’t a formal budget target for JFAC, as that’s up to the budget panel to set.
“I appreciate your work,” said JFAC Co-Chair Maxine Bell, R-Jerome. “It’s a good basis for us to even begin to think about setting a budget.”Sen. Dan Schmidt, D-Moscow, who serves on both the revenue committee and JFAC, as do several other members, said, “I was very impressed with the narrow range of the economic outlook committee’s projections. We had a tight grouping, and I thought that was a reflection of good listening, good work, and I think in the end, indeed the numbers are almost the same as the governor’s numbers, the median of the committee. I don’t know if we’re right,” he said, but if not, “I think we’ll all be wrong together.”