Idaho's K-12 public schools are in line to receive $59.9 million in additional funding, the result of a surplus when Idaho financial managers closed the Fiscal Year 2011 books on June 30.
Idaho received $2.44 billion from all forms of tax receipts (sales, income and corporate) in the last 12 months. That's $85.3 million more than January projections from the Division of Financial Management. Senate Bill 1207, passed by the 2011 Idaho Legislature, requires most of the unexpected additional revenue to be distributed to public schools and community colleges.
In addition to the $59.9 million for public schools, the State Board of Education determined that, based on enrollment growth, the College of Western Idaho will receive about $5 million, North Idaho College almost $1.8 million, and the College of Southern Idaho almost $668,000, for a total of about $7.5 million to community colleges.
"Today's positive news is greatly needed and appreciated for Idaho's school districts and community colleges," said Republican Sen. Dean Cameron of Rupert, co-chair of the Legislature's Joint Finance and Appropriations Committee. "I am grateful to the JFAC committee, legislative budget office, the Legislature and the governor for agreeing to this approach."
Additionally, Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter said the unanticipated revenue will enable the next phased increase to the grocery tax credit for those who file state income tax returns. That should provide about $15 million in income tax relief for Idaho taxpayers.
The Republican Otter made a bet with former Gov. Cecil Andrus, a Democrat, regarding Fiscal Year 2011. Andrus bet Otter that Idaho revenue would exceed the official projection from Otter's budget office.
"I made a silly bet with Andrus," said Otter. "I was hoping that he was right, and then I did everything I could do to make sure he was right. It's a payment that I'm very happy to make."
Otter owes Andrus $100. No word on whether it will be cash or check.