Otter plans more money for ed, reserves, state workers... and some tax relief in '13 budget

The Idaho Reporter | by Dustin Hurst | January 10, 2012

A legislative session without cuts.

It appears that's what lawmakers are facing this legislative session, a change of pace from the prior two.

Gov. Butch Otter's fiscal year 2013 budget contains more money in every area of state government, including education, bonuses for state employees and filling program reserves. Otter has also outlined $45 million in tax relief plus another expansion of the grocery tax credit.

Overall, Otter is projecting $2.7 billion in revenue for 2013, an increase of 5.8 percent from 2012. The governor's office expects fiscal year 2012 to yield $2.55 billion in revenue. If the 2012 revenues hit that target, the state would end up with an overage of about $103 million, which Otter already has plans for in the 2013 budget.

Otter's budget director, Wayne Hammon, told reporters Monday at a briefing that the spending plan strikes an even note. "Given the resources we have, we struck a balance between saving and spending," Hammon said.

Education, the largest recipient of cuts in the past two years, will see more direct funds in 2013 if Otter has his way. His budget calls for a $31 million increase in schools funding, though that's about $30 million less than was requested by Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna. The additional school money will go to fully fund Luna's education reform package, including technology upgrades for classrooms and a teacher merit pay program.


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