The generally friendly Wayne Hammon, Gov. Butch Otter’s budget chief, delivered a threat from the governor to lawmakers as he was detailing the governor’s budget proposal this morning: Otter opposes a $142,000 appropriation to the Legislative Council for laptop computers for the legislative branch - something he line-item vetoed last year. “Particularly offensive to the governor is the manner in which this item was sneaked into the budget,” as a base adjustment rather than as a line item, Hammon said, dubbing the move “budget sleight-of-hand.” He said the governor’s veto threat was back on the table.
JFAC Co-Chair Maxine Bell, R-Jerome, responded, “We’ve been called a lot of things but we’ve never been called sneaks before.” Co-Chair Dean Cameron, R-Rupert, said, “Frankly it’s no different than any other agency who finds money within their agency,” to fund an unfunded item. “Our lease on the computers had expired. Those computers act as our ability to communicate with the public and act as our bill books, which saves us money. The veto occurred as retaliation for this committee’s unwillingness to approve a request from your office. … It wasn’t because the computers weren’t needed.” He added, “Those comments are in my opinion unwarranted.”
Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.
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