State surplus projected at $64.5 million

It’s early in the state’s budget year, but a $64.5 million question of sorts awaits lawmakers: What to do with what appears to be a burgeoning surplus?

Through the first two months of the 2016-17 budget year, state revenues could be $64.5 million ahead of the projections legislators made at the end of the 2016 session.

One reason for the surplus: August revenue collections beat projections by $17.2 million. Sales, income and corporate tax collections are up from 2015-16; overall, revenue collections are up by 7.8 percent from a year ago.

Also part of the equation: the state Department of Health and Welfare returned $19.1 million to the state general fund in August. Meanwhile, the Division of Financial Management’s revenue projections are $28.5 million higher than those used by the Legislature.

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If the surplus holds — or grows — between now and January, lawmakers could have an unanticipated question on their hands when the 2017 session convenes. It could trigger a debate about whether to put the surplus into K-12 or other state programs, or return it through tax relief.

More reading: State superintendent Sherri Ybarra proposes a 6.6 percent budget increase for K-12.

 

Kevin Richert

About Kevin Richert

Senior reporter and blogger Kevin Richert specializes in education politics and education policy. He has more than 30 years of experience in Idaho journalism. He is a frequent guest on KIVI 6 On Your Side; "Idaho Reports" on Idaho Public Television; and "Idaho Matters" on Boise State Public Radio. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinRichert. He can be reached at [email protected]ednews.org

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