Two giant pieces of Gov. Dirk Kempthorne’s agenda for this year’s legislative session cleared the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee this morning on unanimous votes – giving state employees an immediate, permanent, merit-based pay raise averaging 3 percent, and depositing a big chunk of the state’s budget surplus – lawmakers decided on $70 million, up from Kempthorne’s recommendation of $67 million –to the state’s rainy-day fund.
“It was a relatively easy decision, because the money was there, the urgency was there – there was no reason to delay it,” said Rep. Frank Henderson, R-Post Falls, who serves on JFAC. Both bills still must pass the full House and Senate, but once the 20-member joint budget committee makes a budget decision, it almost always passes into law.
Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.
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