Eye On Boise

TUESDAY, FEB. 7, 2006, 11:30 A.M.

‘We’re a budget-driven body here’

The state budget, the school facilities lawsuit, increased school enrollment, the sale of Albertson’s – all were discussed by the Senate Majority Caucus behind closed doors, according to Caucus Chair Brad Little, R-Emmett. “Since the governor developed his budget, things have changed,” Little said.

He said Senate GOP leaders wanted all their caucus members to understand the different factors playing into budget decisions, including the school facilities lawsuit. The Idaho Supreme Court in December declared Idaho’s system for funding school construction unconstitutional and ordered the Legislature to fix it; a leadership bill is in the works and is expected to emerge later this week. “We talked significantly about the school facilities lawsuit,” Little said. He added, “We’re a budget-driven body here. All the services are tied to the state budget.” So why not discuss the state budget in public, rather than in secret? “That’s the venue that we meet in,” Little said. “It’s a political strategy session.”

House members reportedly focused on the budget in their closed-door caucus, but members emerged talking about everything from how much state employees should get in raises to property tax reform. House GOP leaders declined to comment on their caucus.

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