Democratic candidate for Idaho governor, Keith Allred, and a powerful business association have traded competing claims over the state budget approved by lawmakers earlier this year. The Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry created a website condemning Allred’s stance on the budget, saying if he were governor, the state would be facing an $82 million deficit and higher taxes. The website, AllredInk.com, compares Allred to national Democratic figures like President Barack Obama, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Sen. Harry Reid.
Allred calls the website’s claims “flat wrong.” “This dirty game of misinformation plays on Idahoans' fears,” he said in a news release criticizing the website and telephone calls associated with it.
The website claims Allred’s budget proposals would lead to more debt and more taxes, though Allred said he’s opposed to raising taxes. The $82 million claim likely comes from the amount state tax revenues for the current fiscal year are below projections from Idaho state economist Mike Ferguson, who works for Gov. Butch Otter’s Division of Financial Management. Lawmakers set a revenue target $69 million below Ferguson’s projection, leaving the state $13.5 million below its target with two months of revenue collection left in the current fiscal year.
According to Allred, that $82 million claim is inaccurate because it mixes up budget years. Earlier this week, Allred criticized the revenue target for the next fiscal year, not the current fiscal year. For the next year, which starts in July, lawmakers set a revenue target predicting only a slight turnaround in the state economy. The two revenue projections from lawmakers led to the state budget, which included cuts to state agencies and public schools.
Allred sent out news releases in January and February opposing low revenue estimates by the governor and lawmakers for the next fiscal year budget. “My hope is that the Legislature’s budget writers don’t follow Otter’s reckless lead,” he said February. “We don't need to be mortgaging our kids’ future by cutting education." Allred repeated his criticism the budget for next year is set too low, leading to reduced education spending.
Allred, along with the governor, said the early reports of April tax revenues showing a $55.5 million gap in collections contained good news because sales tax revenues were higher than expected. However, a lawmaker central to the budget-writing process, Sen. Dean Cameron, R-Rupert, said it’s unclear if those sales tax figures will lead to a swing in Idaho’s economy, and said he thinks Allred has a lack of understanding about the state budget.
IACI could not be reached for comment about website or its claims.