Another $54 million will be earmarked for a transportation funding plan approved at the end of the 2015 legislative session, Gov. Butch Otter and State Controller Brandon Woolf announced Friday.
Idaho’s fiscal year ends June 30 each year. The surplus was announced in the state Division of Financial Management’s year-end report. General fund revenue for the past fiscal year rose 8.6 percent; it had been forecasted at 5.3 percent.
Half of the sum will go to address Idaho’s backlog of transportation projects, adding to $95 million being raised this year through gas tax and registration fee increases. The rest of the surplus will be shifted to Idaho’s Budget Stabilization Fund, leaving it with $243.8 million, according to Otter’s and Woolf’s press release.
Their joint statement announced a $92 million surplus for Idaho’s general fund, but the full total includes another $16 million. Among that sum is money Idaho agencies didn’t spend this past year, state DFM head Jani Revier told Idaho Reports. Those extra funds often came from positions that weren’t filled or projects that didn’t materialize, and the amount is about average this year, Revier said.
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“We balanced the budget and we put money in our rainy day funds. This wasn’t an accident. This was accomplished as a matter of political will, grounded in common-sense fiscal restraint and guided by the principle that our state government must always live within the people’s means,” Otter said in his release.
Lawmakers had initially mixed reactions to the report, according to Idaho Reports, which spoke to Boise Democratic Rep. Melissa Wintrow and House Assistant Majority Leader Brent Crane.
“I think it provides an opportunity for us to look at us cutting taxes,” Crane said. “It’s the taxpayers’ money. We’ve got too much of it. We need to return it back to them.”