Gov. Butch Otter said Thursday that he has told department heads to plan for holdbacks and will announce Monday the extent of the immediate cuts.
Though he wouldn’t give details about what he is going to announce in Monday’s State of the State, he said that next year’s budget would include no growth from the already cut budget this year.
Otter said the executive branch has been more optimistic than legislative leaders in their assessments for Idaho’s economic future.
Otter and legislative leaders have been meeting in recent months to discuss the budget problems.
On Dec. 7, Senate President Pro Tem Bob Geddes and House Speaker Lawerence Denney sent a letter to Otter urging him to make a second across-the-board budget cuts. A September holdback averaged 4 percent.
The request was for another 2 percent holdback to help make up for as much as a $51 million shortfall in the $2.5 billion state budget.
Click here to read Dan Popkey’s story on the top legislators urging more cuts.
Public education would not be exempt from the holdbacks. Republican leaders have suggested allowing school districts without enough reserves to borrow against their Fiscal Year 2011 appropriations to cover any shortfalls brought by the holdbacks.
Republican and Democratic legislators disagreed on approaches to dealing with the economic conditions.
"I can tell you this is probably going to be the most challenging session we’ve ever been involved in," said Denney, R-Midvale. "It will revolve mostly around budget. I don’t think it’s about cutting, it’s about the magnitude of the cuts we're going to have to make."
Geddes, R-Soda Springs, said the government has not had to cut as much as Idaho citizens have.
"People feel they’ve been asked to do more in their personal lives and personal businesses than government has been asked to do. People have been struggling with this economy more than what we have required government to struggle," Geddes said.
Democrats warned that further cuts to education could harm the state's economic recovery. They said the state must look at other ways to meet its budget without cutting public schools or higher education, suggesting Internet sales tax, more collection agents for the State Tax Commission, changing tax exemptions and possibly adding more user fees.
"I think we’re going to be performing triage. We're already whittled and trimmed a lot. We're in a situation where we’ve got a bare bones budget to start with," said Senate Minority Leader Kate Kelly, D-Boise.