Democratic candidate for governor Keith Allred issued a press release critical of the revenue projections that legislative budget writers are expected to adopt Friday. Allred again labeled Gov. Butch Otter's budget proposals as "irrational pessimism."
Many of Allred's criticisms directed at the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee (JFAC), including looking toward other economists' more optimistic forecasts and hiring more auditors at the Idaho Tax Commission, are similar to those Democratic Rep. Wendy Jaquet of Ketchum told IdahoReporter.com. Otter and Republicans on JFAC have said that tax revenues continue to be below expectations, which is why a $2.28 billion budget for the current year will likely be chosen Friday.
Read Allred's news release below.
ALLRED TO JFAC: DON’T FOLLOW OTTER’S RECKLESS LEAD
With the Joint Finance and Appropriations Committee about to take up state revenue projections, gubernatorial candidate Keith Allred says it’s time to reject Otter’s preference for gloom over facts.
“When Otter says we have no choice but to cut education, he’s just factually wrong,” said Allred. “We should build the budget on evidence, not irrational pessimism.”
On the eve of the Joint Finance and Appropriations Committee’s hearing on the state’s revenue projections, it’s time to look at how Otter’s dismal view of Idaho’s budget ignores the facts:
* Idaho’s chief economist Mike Ferguson reiterated even this week that despite some lagging tax collections, Idaho is on track to see revenues increase by more than $82 million in the coming year.
* Based on economic evidence, The Associated Taxpayers of Idaho and the Tax Commission each independently project even larger revenue increases than Ferguson’s.
Beyond the projected increased revenues, Idaho’s “tax gap” has grown to about $250 million a year, according to testimony by state Tax Commission Chairman Royce Chigbrow. Part of the problem? The Tax Commission, the very agency that is tasked with recovering unpaid taxes, has been hit with budgeting cuts and is understaffed.
Otter has said that the state can spend the projected revenue later if it fact comes in. However, Idaho’s Superintendent of Public Instruction has made it clear why this won’t work. Superintendent Luna has said that the cuts Otter is forcing on education will lead to lasting damage to student achievement.
“When the revenues come in as projected, there is no magic wand that can be waved to repair the damage to student achievement that has already been done,” Allred said.
“We should not be engaging in a race to the bottom when it comes to our budget projections,” said Allred. “My hope is that the Legislature’s budget writers don’t follow Gov. Otter’s reckless lead. We don't need to be mortgaging our kids’ future by cutting education."