Idaho budget watchers are expecting a $7.5 million shortfall when the fiscal year finishes at the end of June, and Gov. Butch Otter and other constitutional officials approved transferring funds to ensure a balanced budget.
The Board of Examiners, which includes Otter, Attorney General Lawrence Wasden, and Secretary of State Ben Ysursa, approved shifting money from the Budget Stabilization Fund and Permanent Building Fund to meet the shortfall. State lawmakers earlier this year approved letting the governor draw down from those funds to ensure a balanced budget.
The Budget Stabilization Fund will likely contain only $600,000, according to Otter’s budget chief, Wayne Hammon. The bulk of the money comes from Permanent Building Fund. That money would otherwise go to constructing and maintaining state-owned buildings.
“Building maintenance is important, but people come first,” Hammon told IdahoReporter.com.
The Board of Examiners could have chosen to spend from a different state account, the Economic Recovery Reserve Fund, but the budget approved by the Legislature spends that money on state programs in the next budget, which starts in July.
The projected $7.5 million shortfall stems from lower tax revenues than originally forecast by state chief economist Mike Ferguson. Hammon said those projections are down because corporate income taxes are expected to be weak. Final revenue numbers, which would trigger a transfer from the building fund, will be ready in mid-July.
Otter said he is also taking steps to rein in state spending in the final month of the state fiscal year. “We’ve asked all cabinet members, if they don’t need to spend money, to not spend it,” he said during the board meeting.