House GOP: Idaho revenue may be worse than thought

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BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Republican House leaders fear Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter’s budget projections may be too optimistic because tax revenue isn’t shaping up as robustly as some had hoped.

During a 90-minute, closed-door session Thursday, GOP state representatives were told by their House bosses to steel themselves for more dour news.

House Majority Caucus Chair Ken Roberts, a Donnelly Republican, told reporters afterward, “I think we’re going to have to lower our expenses below even what the governor said in his State of the State speech.”

On Monday, Otter announced his intention to trim an additional $40 million from the 2010 budget, including $27 million from public education. And for fiscal year 2011, he outlined a budget of just $2.46 billion, a level not seen since 2006.

What’s got lawmakers worried? Preliminary December tax revenue figures were $12.6 million below forecasts.

A committee that sets the Legislature’s revenue forecasts for 2010 and 2011 canceled its meeting Thursday, opting instead to wait until more up-to-date numbers arrive.