Eye On Boise

Colleges, cops hit hard by holdbacks

Members of the Joint Finance Appropriations Committee review the impact of 4 percent budget holdbacks on state agencies, 1/14/09  (Betsy Russell / The Spokesman-Review)
Members of the Joint Finance Appropriations Committee review the impact of 4 percent budget holdbacks on state agencies, 1/14/09 (Betsy Russell / The Spokesman-Review)

Lawmakers on JFAC this morning are hearing presentations on how the 4 percent holdbacks have affected various state agencies. Among the news: Idaho State Police is holding seven trooper positions vacant for two months to make up $42,000 in personnel holdbacks in patrol. That's 5 percent of its total trooper strength. The state Tax Commission has cut 63 year-round temporary employees, of which 50 are from audits and collections, plus imposed a hiring freeze and asked three-quarters of its employees to take two days off without pay. And at state colleges and universities, the cuts have hit hard. Legislative budget analyst Matt Freeman, queried by new JFAC member Sen. Jeff Siddoway about whether they'll affect students, said, "There will probably be some program eliminations which will lead to a longer time to graduate," plus higher student fees. "Course may be eliminated."

JFAC Co-Chair Rep. Maxine Bell, R-Jerome, said, "We did hurt them, but ... this is going to give them an opportunity." Like other pinched state agencies, she said, colleges can "refine" what they're all about.




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