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One’s closed, the other’s open

It’s happened again, for a second day in a row. The House Majority Caucus met behind closed doors for about 45 minutes to discuss the state budget, including presentations from experts on various line items and how the budget works. At the same time, the House Minority Caucus met to discuss the same thing – and its meeting was open.

House GOP Caucus Chair Julie Ellsworth said the majority caucus hasn’t taken a position. “It’s just getting the information out to everybody about it,” she said. The group, which includes more than 80 percent of the House, may hold another session if needed, but one’s not scheduled yet, she said.

House Assistant Minority Leader George Sayler, D-Coeur d’Alene, said, “That’s partly the difference between the two parties and part of the reason why we need a more balanced political makeup. It’s a budget process – it should be transparent. I don’t know why they’d do it in closed caucus.”

The Democrats, for their part, are discussing everything from whether tuition should be charged at state universities to whether there’s a better scenario they could propose for the state budget. Sayler said the caucus members will be working on budget scenarios over the next few days, and will continue discussing them openly.

Closed doors, he said, just create suspicion. “It always raises questions – what are they talking about? Are they making deals?”

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Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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