“Our focus is on growing our economy, not growing our budget,” Otter said in a news release. “We’re determined to put taxpayers’ dollars to the best possible use while maintaining a stable tax and regulatory climate.” Otter has said that not raising taxes contributes to that stability.
Idaho state economist Mike Ferguson also said in the news release that his most recent tax revenue forecast, which was higher than the projections lawmakers used to set state spending, may not be as accurate as he once thought. “It is fair to say that the 2011 forecast that I made last December may be too optimistic,” he said. Ferguson also said he expects state revenues in the current budget year, which ends June 30, will be close to the $2.28 billion lawmakers used.
“Budgeting based on the rosiest possible projections is bad public policy,” Otter said. “It’s a lot wiser to under-promise and then over-deliver when the time is right than to over-promise and leave folks in the lurch.” Democrats, including Otter’s opponent in the November election, Keith Allred, have criticized lawmakers and the governor for using lower tax revenue projections, which led to spending reductions in the current and next state budget.
Wayne Hammon, Otter’s budget chief, said the new report from the National Governors Association and National Association of State Budget Officials shows that Idaho is better off than other states. “By keeping our spending in check and planning carefully for the future, Idaho has avoided the worst of the recession mostly intact and is better prepared for quicker recovery than many other states,” Hammon said. Every state in the country except Vermont is required to balance its budget every year. The report showed that 18 states balanced their budget by raising taxes and fees, and that across the country, states approved a net $3.1 billion increase in taxes and fees.
Read the governor’s full news release here.
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