“The governor’s first priority is to protect jobs,” Wayne Hammon, Gov. Butch Otter’s budget director, told the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee this morning as he began presenting the governor’s recommendations for spending $1.24 billion in federal economic stimulus money. “People think there’s a $1 billion bucket of money hidden somewhere behind Sen. Cameron’s chair or something,” he told the committee. “You all know that’s not the case. There are literally hundreds of tiny buckets of money … that are dedicated to specific activities and specific projects that have to be appropriated.”
When the governor and his stimulus committee sorted through more than a thousand proposals from local governments, charities and businesses across the state for a slice of the stimulus pie, “The committee and the governor came to the understanding that the fastest way to put the most Idahoans back to work in good-paying jobs is through programs we already have, and that there was no need to reinvent the wheel or start picking and choosing across the state,” Hammon said. That’s why, instead funding any of those requests, Otter is recommending putting the $45 million in discretionary funds into water and road projects.
Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.
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