BOISE -- Impending cuts to education could be wiped away if the state continues to collect more taxes than expected.
Gov. Butch Otter gave his take Thursday on the 2011 legislative session, calling it a big success. He said one of the things he's proudest of is the budget.
For the state, being able to balance the budget without raising taxes has to be an achievement that a lot of states are envious of, said Otter.
The budget picture could get even better.For the fiscal year-to-date, Idaho has about $60.2 million more than expected thanks to state tax collections beating projections in most months this year. Corporate income tax is the big driver there.
But tax day (April 18) is why April is typically the biggest month of the year for money coming into the state and why the governor isn't counting on a surplus yet.
Obviously we could always use that additional money, but I'm not going to spend that $60 million until June 30th, said Otter.
If there is a surplus, legislation passed this year, called a surplus eliminator, would determine where that money goes.
If the surplus stays at $60.2 million, $600,000 would go to professional technical education, $4.5 million would go to community colleges, and $9.1 million would go into the general fund for next year.
But by far the biggest chunk -- $46 million -- would go to K-12 education. That would almost completely wipe out the impending $47 million in cuts to public education for the coming year.Otter says any extra funds were always earmarked for the classroom.
That was the indication that we made when we had to cut public schools in 2009 and 2010, and I think we're fulfilling on that promise, said Otter.
Since the fiscal year doesn't end until June 30th, Idaho won't know until then if there are any surplus monies.
The governor said any future surplus monies should be used for a grocery tax rebate.