Tax collections beat forecasts — but most of the money is spoken for

(UPDATED, 4:22 p.m., May 9, with corrected numbers from the state Division of Financial Management. The story is edited throughout)

First, the good news: Idaho’s revenue collections for the all-important month of April topped projections by $49.6 million.

Now, the bottom line: Almost all of the money is already spoken for.

When they wrapped up their business for 2017 by passing a complicated highway funding package, lawmakers earmarked much of their newfound revenue into a so-called “surplus eliminator.” The renewed surplus eliminator will gobble up $39.2 million of the newfound revenue; this money will be split into between infrastructure projects and the state’s rainy-day fund.

Another $7.4 million will go into Idaho’s Consumer Protection Fund.

That leaves only $2.9 million that will stay in Idaho’s general fund — and could be up for grabs to fund education and other state programs, or bankroll tax cuts.

With two months left in the 2016-17 budget year, the state is now on track to close the year with a $76.4 million cash balance.

April is a key month in the state budget year, because revenues include the last-minute surge of income tax payments. All told, Idaho collected $529.2 million in revenues for the month.

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