Idaho's former state chief economist, now an independent analyst for the new Idaho Center for Fiscal Policy, has looked at Gov. Otter's budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2013 and he's not impressed. In an interview with Boise State Public Radio's new StateImpact Idaho project (in collaboration with NPR), Mike Ferguson told reporter Molly Messick that Idaho used to dedicate about 4.5 percent of personal income to education.
“That’s the amount we were investing in our children,” he noted. “Since 2000, we’ve seen that amount drop by over 20 percent. It has gone from 4.4 percent on average from the 80s and 90s to 3.5 percent in today’s terms.”
Ferguson also said that the state's economy performed better with higher tax rates in the 1990s. “We had some of the best economic performance of the state’s history. Those taxes that were collected didn’t go into a black hole. They were raised, basically, to fund education. Education kept pace,” he added. “And I think it’s really hard to overstate the importance of education in terms of its role in economic development. When companies are looking to locate, they’re concerned about their families, their employees’ families, and having a good education system is really important.”