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Idaho's Rainy Day Account Could Fund State Government For 15 Days

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Emilie Ritter Saunders
Boise State Public Radio

If forced to pay its bills using reserves, Idaho could've funded state government for 14.7 days last fiscal year. That data has been collected and analyzed by The Pew Charitable Trusts for all 50 states, going back to fiscal year 2000.

As states creep out of the Great Recession, reserve bank accounts had been depleted thanks to an increase in unemployment insurance benefits and welfare caseloads. At the same time, most states' revenues, including Idaho's, declined.

But now, Pew reports that "for the first time in five years, no state in fiscal 2013 expected its combination of rainy day reserves and general fund balances to drop below zero."

Idaho lawmakers are returning to Boise this week for the start of their annual legislative session, which convenes Jan. 6. As always, legislators will keep a close eye on revenue coming into the state as they set budgets for the next fiscal year. Undoubtedly, lawmakers will continue to set money aside to keep replenishing Idaho's rainy day account.

Here's a look at Idaho's reserves over the last 13 years. The chart doesn't include the current fiscal year, which started July 1, 2013.

Credit Data: PewStates.org | Chart: Emilie Ritter Saunders

At its most recent peak, Idaho could have funded the state for 67.6 days back in fiscal year 2006 when it had $411 million set aside.

In fiscal year 2013, Idaho socked away $108 million. Compare that to some of Idaho's neighboring states. Montana had $449 million, enough for 82.1 days. Utah had $288 million, enough for 20.4 days. Washington had $378 million, enough for 9 days. Wyoming had $884 million, enough for 193.9 days.

PewStates.org says their data analysis doesn't include revenue sources some states may have outside its general fund.

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