Idaho could be on track to finish the fiscal year with $139 million in surplus tax revenue if a new forecast released Dec. 8 holds true.
The state’s legislative budget office released the projection for the year ending next June 30, estimating that Idaho should take in nearly $3.44 billion in state taxes and fees.
The amount is $92 million more than what lawmakers initially estimated and would make for a surplus of $139 million.
The report followed an announcement that November was the first month Idaho’s receipts did not meet the forecast — falling $7 million shy of the projected $230.6 million.
Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter’s economists say individual income taxes and sales tax receipts came up short in November, but overall personal and corporate income taxes have reached higher level than originally estimated.
Many factors could still change the economic outlook between now and the end of the fiscal year — such as emergency budget requests or a miscalculation on a tax revenue fund.
However, the early projections show Idaho is poised to see a $139 million-plus surplus.
Legislative analysts say the last time Idaho saw a similar surplus was in fiscal 2012. The increased revenue helped pay for a combined $56 million in tax cuts with money left over to bump up reserve accounts.
In the Republican-dominated Legislature, GOP lawmakers tend to see surplus revenues as incentive to cut taxes rather expanding government programs. Those lawmakers have preferred proving to voters back home that they haven’t loosened spending restraints.
Lawmakers haven’t yet laid out any detailed plans for possible tax cuts.
But legislative leaders recently removed Sen. Jeff Siddoway, R-Terreton, from chair of the Senate Local Government and Taxation Committee. He had been known as a key figure regarding tax cuts because he often refused to consider proposals that reduced education spending.
The governor recently told lawmakers and business lobbyists that he had no plans to introduce a tax cut proposal during his annual State of the State address, but would be open to approving one if lawmakers brought him a bill.