Lawmakers on the Economic Outlook and Revenue Assessment Committee (EORAC) have agreed to move the state budget process forward with a vote of confidence in Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter’s revenue estimate.
Gov. Otter unveiled his annual budget plan Monday. It assumes state revenue will increase 5.3 percent in fiscal year 2014 over fiscal year 2013. The budget proposal would spend $84 million more in general fund money next year compared to the current budget year.
Senate President Pro-Tem Brent Hill made the motion to approve the governor’s forecast, with the caveat that lawmakers have discretion to change that number if state tax projections begin to falter. House Speaker Scott Bedke agreed.
“At this point in time, I don’t see anything wrong with the governor’s more optimistic number,” Bedke said. Still, he added, he sees no problem with the Legislature adjusting that estimate as the session unfolds, and as tax collections peak later this year.
Fourteen committee members voted yes. The four “no” votes came from Sen. John Goedde (R-Coeur d’Alene), Sen. Curt McKenzie (R-Nampa), Rep. Frank Henderson (R-Post Falls), and Rep. Stephen Hartgen (R-Twin Falls).
Rep. Hartgen told committee members the governor’s revenue forecast is “very, very aggressive.”