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Idaho finances continue to improve

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I have been gone for the last two weeks on vacation so this report will be shorter then others since I am now trying to catch up on issues occurring in the time I have been gone. (Some will say, “a shorter article - good!”)

At the same time I have been gone, we are undergoing construction at our residence and our telephone has been out of service for several days. I hope to have it back in service before publication of this week’s River Journal; in the meantime my apologies for those of you who have called and have not yet received a response; the same with email messages. I am receiving recorded telephone messages and will be answering those this week; I also anticipate several email messages as soon as I am back in phone communication and ask for your patience as I get caught up.

I have received the latest financial update from the State Division of Financial Management and can continue to report increasing improvement in our financial situation.

Our general fund revenue was slightly over $10 million higher than expected in June.  This lessens our final revenue gap to about $22 million below our target. All five of our revenue categories exceeded expectations for June. Three of these categories: corporate income tax, sales tax and miscellaneous income, exceeded their respective targets for the full fiscal year. However, the individual income tax and product tax categories fell short of their fiscal year targets. The largest shortfall was in the individual income tax category, which came in $48.7 million lower than expected. Individual income tax receipts were almost flat in FY2003, growing only about two-tenths of a percent over FY2002. 

Corporate income tax receipts ended the year about $7.1 million higher than the $86 million forecasted, and sales tax receipts were slightly over $8 million more than expected. June sales tax receipts were weaker than in May, but this is probably because consumer purchases increased in April in anticipation of the sales tax increase which became effective on May 1. Sales tax revenues have only been under estimates in June, October and January of FY2003, and at or above estimates the rest of the year.

These latest revenue numbers support the current national economic forecast which indicates continuing improvement over the second half of this year. The Idaho economic forecast also indicates continuing growth in nominal personal income, all of which are positive signals that we have seen the worst of the difficult economic conditions of this past year.

If I may be excused for some personal reflection, I indicated at the beginning of this article that I have been on vacation the past two weeks. One day of this vacation was spent in New York City, where I had the opportunity of visiting the site of the destroyed World Trade Center towers. There was nothing there but a massive hole surrounded by fencing with some clean-up still occurring. Our nation’s flag was waving prominently on site, but that was all that was left of the towers and the symbol of world trade and peace the towers represented. We will prevail over those who use terrorism as a means to further their political beliefs, but one cannot help but reflect upon the change that attack on the towers has brought to our lives and the impact on our freedom. 

Public buildings that once were open to the public to visit are now closed or require stringent security screening before entrance. As examples: the New York Stock Exchange building used to have a viewing area that is now closed for security reasons; it takes longer for tourists to travel to the top of the Empire State Building because of the security measures installed after 911; and you have to arrive at the airport two plus hours earlier to get through security. 

I don’t deny these measures are necessary for our safety, but it is disappointing to find ourselves in this situation with the loss of the freedom of movement that is the end result. We need to remain vigilant that we do not go to extremes and, in the effort to provide security and safety, take away the rights of our citizens to privacy and freedom of movement which should not be infringed upon.

One additional personal note: I wish to express my thanks for being acknowledged as the favorite local politician in Bonner County; it is my honor and privilege to serve all of you in District one. At the same time I want to express my appreciation to Senator Keough and Representative Campbell for the work and effort they extend for the benefit of our District. We work together as a team, combining our individual strengths and areas of expertise, resulting in more effective representation of the interests of District One than we would be able to working on an individual basis.

Thanks for reading and feel free to contact me anytime. My home address is P.O. Box 112, Dover, 83825 and my home phone is 265-0123. Hopefully my phone will be back in service by the time this article is published!

George

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Rep. George Eskridge Rep. George Eskridge the Republican Representative for District 1 in Idaho’s House, George Eskridge can be reached at 208-265-0123 or write PO Box 112, Dover, ID 83825

Tagged as:

Idaho Legislature, A Seat in the House, state funding, 9/11

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