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Idaho’s revenue estimating panel with a difficult-to-remember acronym meets this week in Boise. EORAC, the Economic Outlook and Revenue Assessment Committee, meets to come up with a starting-point for Idaho’s annual state budget.
The 18-member legislative panel will spend tomorrow and part of Friday getting briefed on Idaho’s finances and economic condition. Then, lawmakers will regroup later this month to determine what they think Idaho’s revenue estimate (the basis for crafting how Idaho spends its money) should be for fiscal year 2014.
As we explained last year, the EORAC process isn’t an exact science, rather it’s more of a crystal-ball-method.
You can find the agenda for the Thursday and Friday meeting here. Plus, the meetings will be live web-streamed here.
Molly Messick / StateImpact Idaho
Rep. Bedke (R-Oakley) is the newly elected Speaker of the House.
The Idaho Legislature convenes January 7. Over the last month, StateImpact sat down with lawmakers to discuss the most anticipated issues of the coming session.
Rep. Scott Bedke is a rancher from Oakley, Idaho. He was elected Speaker of the House in December, defeating Rep. Lawerence Denney, who had served in that post for three terms.
The new Speaker has said he seeks to be a consensus builder, and doesn’t want to lead the House in a top-down manner. That approach was on display last month, when we began by talking about the likelihood of a state-based health insurance exchange. Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter had issued his cautious endorsement of a state-based exchange a day earlier.
Q: The governor says he favors a state-based health insurance exchange. How do you view that recommendation?
Three of Idaho’s neighboring states increased their minimum wage this week, while Idaho’s rate remains at the federal minimum.
Montana, Oregon and Washington increased their hourly minimums. Now, all but two western states have higher hourly wages than Idaho.
U.S. Department of Labor
Click on the map to enlarge.
Idaho’s minimum wage has been $7.25 since 2009. Continue Reading
State Sen. John Goedde is a Republican from Coeur d’Alene. He’s chairman of the Senate’s Education Committee. It’s a panel that will be closely watched during the upcoming legislative session as lawmakers figure out what to do now that voters rejected three sweeping education laws.
We spoke with Goedde earlier this month to get his take on a few issues sure to be hot topics during the session; education, the personal property tax, and health care. Much as it is annual, Goedde says his number one focus will be watching the budget.
A: A huge part will be the budget. We’re not living up to our projections from our last budget session. We’re going to have to take a close look at what kind of growth we might expect this time around and be very, very careful. The worst thing we can do, and I understand that now from 12 years of experience, is to over-forecast and then have to do hold-backs mid-term. That’s terrible. We have to deal with the Affordable Care Act, which is Medicaid expansion or not. And the establishment of a state health exchange, or to accept by default a federal exchange. Those issues will be hotly debated, and it will take us a lot of time to get through that. Continue Reading