Governors, Legislatures, and Budgets: Diversity across the American States

By Edward J. Clynch; Thomas P. Lauth | Go to book overview
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Idaho: Process and Politics in Gem State Budgeting


Idaho is a semirural western state with a population of 1 million (forty-first in the nation) and an economy extensively dependent on agriculture, forest products, and tourism. During the 1980s, the state had a low job-growth rate (2 percent for 1980-1986), a per capita income of only $11,120 (fortieth in the nation), and faced hard times. 1 During most of the recent fiscal years, governors have had to hold back funds from state agencies because revenues fell below expenditure levels.

In politics, Idaho tends to be Republican and conservative, although voters sometimes split their ballots to elect popular Democratic candidates. For the past sixteen years, two Democratic governors ( Cecil Andrus and John Evans) have faced overwhelming Republican majorities in both houses of the state legislature, and vigorous battles have been fought over budgets and taxes.

This chapter provides an overview of Idaho's revenue and expenditures, examines the budget process, and briefly analyzes budget outcomes.


Idaho's budget is one of the smallest in the nation. For FY 1987, it ranked forty- second in terms of general fund revenues and forty-fourth based on revenues received from all funding sources. 2 General fund revenues increased from $230.9 million in FY 1976to a projected $655.6 million for FY 1988. During this period, general fund revenue collections grew annually by as much as 15.1 percent (FY 1979) and as little as 2.3 percent (FY 1983) with an average of 9.4 percent. Only as recently as FY 1985 did total funding from all sources surpass the $1 billion mark.

The state budget has been funded by three main revenue sources. General fund revenues have comprised about one-half of the total; federal funding about 25 percent; and dedicated funds approximately 20 percent. General fund revenues have come primarily from individual citizens through their payment of income


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