Idaho’s budget surplus to exceed $100 million

POCATELLO — Idaho is on pace to have a carryover of more than $100 million when its budget year ends Saturday, according to the latest numbers presented to the Joint Finance-Approprations Committee Monday.

Legislative budget director Paul Headlee walked the Legislature’s 20-member budget-writing committee through the details during a meeting at Idaho State University. The numbers show a potential revenue surplus of $100,015,600. That’s on top of the $118.4 million set aside by the 2018 Legislature as a beginning balance for the 2018-19 budget year.

“It’s great news for the budget, in general,” said Headlee, who added that the surplus amount could fluctuate slightly in the days heading into the end of the fiscal year.

Like the $118.4 million “ending balance,” the $100 million surplus will help cover 2018-19 expenses. The 2018 Legislature again approved a “surplus eliminator” bill, which requires surplus funds to be split evenly between the state’s main rainy-day savings account and various road and bridge projects.

The surplus didn’t come as a “huge surprise” to those watching fiscal trend lines in recent months, said Rep. Wendy Horman, R-Idaho Falls, a JFAC member. She attributed the carryover to a continually improving economy.

“We are the fastest growing state in the nation,” Horman said.

Monday kicked off three days of JFAC meetings and tours in East Idaho. Click here for the agenda.

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The 2019 session is shaping up to be a transition year, as JFAC works under two new co-chairs and a new governor. The session will also mark the final year of funding for the state’s $250 million career ladder salary law, aimed at boosting teacher pay, and possible revisions to the state’s arcane K-12 funding formula.

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