The House Appropriations Committee, the House half of the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee, is meeting now to consider introducing the new highway bonding bill. The bill sets a maximum of $250 million for GARVEE bonding for next year, and lists the six highway projects but gives ranges, rather then set amounts, for each. For the Garwood to Sagle project on U.S. Highway 95 in North Idaho, the range is from a minimum of $23 million to a maximum of $77.1 million. For the Worley North project on Highway 95, it’s $11.2 million to $12 million. State Highway 16 from I-84 to Emmett ranges from $4.3 million to $17 million; I-84 from Caldwell to Meridian ranges from $58.1 million to $126 million; and I-84 from Orchard to Isaacs Canyon ranges from $28 million to $30 million. The McCammon to Lava Hot Springs project ranges from $38.4 million to $40 million.
Rep. George Eskridge, R-Dover, said he wanted to be clear that by having those dollar ranges in there, he could assure his constituents in North Idaho that at least $23 million will be available for land acquisition for the Garwood to Sagle project. “Correct?” he asked. “That’s correct,” responded legislative budget analyst Eric Milstead.
Committee Chair Maxine Bell, R-Jerome, almost called for a vote before noticing that Rep. Bert Brackett, R-Rogerson, who was sitting by himself at his regular JFAC desk far off to one side of the room, had a question. When she apologized, he responded, “It is a very big room for a small number of people.”
Rep. Frank Henderson, R-Post Falls, moved to introduce the bill and send it to the House’s 2nd reading calendar, and Rep. Margaret Henbest, D-Boise, seconded the motion. It then passed unanimously, 8-0.