Idaho legislators worry they may not be able to fund big pieces of Gov. Butch Otter’s proposed budget because of worsening economic conditions – and they got the first numbers Thursday to bolster that fear.
Preliminary state tax revenue figures for January showed a sharp drop, coming in $36 million below projections. December’s figures met projections, and November was the last of five straight months in which tax revenues exceeded the state’s projections.
“While we’re not raising the panic flag or a red flag, we certainly are raising the orange flag of caution,” said Senate Finance Chairman Dean Cameron, R-Rupert.
Otter’s budget chief, Wayne Hammon, said, “We do not believe that one month of bad revenue creates a panic for the state budget.”
Cameron said falling revenues could threaten Otter’s proposed 5 percent merit raises for state employees and state Superintendent of Schools Tom Luna’s proposed performance pay plan for teachers.
Fire crew struggles through snow
Crews responding to a house fire Thursday morning on Greensferry Road in rural Kootenai County had a hard time getting up the home’s snowed-in driveway.
Fire trucks had to chain up to navigate the slippery roads from Cougar Gulch to Greensferry, and a plow trying to clear the driveway became stuck, Kootenai County Fire and Rescue spokesman Jim Lyon said.
A tender truck that went for more water slid off the road and became stuck in the snow, Lyon said.
Despite the weather, Lyon said there wasn’t much delay in responding to the fire.
Because they couldn’t drive up the driveway, crews carried hoses through the snow, he said.
The homeowners are in Florida, Lyon said, and nobody was home when the fire was reported about 10:30 a.m.
The home and vehicles in the garage were destroyed, but Lyon said the family is insured.
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