Here’s a link to my full story on the JFAC action today setting a budget target. It’s still up in the air as to some of the implications, but the new target, plus spending more of the stimulus money, could enable lawmakers to set a budget for next year that cuts public schools by 3.4 percent, rather than the governor’s recommended 6.3 percent. It also could mean a statewide personnel cutback of roughly 3 percent, rather than the 5 percent that Otter favors. However, that would mean cutting into part or all of the $45 million in stimulus money that Otter wanted to direct into a $15 million boost in the state’s drinking and clean water loan funds and $30 million in additional road projects. Instead, that money would be used to help balance the state budget, including items the governor proposed funding, and to offset the proposed personnel cuts.
What with all the what-ifs today, some committee members were reluctant to vote without more information, but then some got restive. Sen. Jim Hammond, R-Post Falls, said, “We have had reason after reason to put that off. We need to get done and get out of here, and the first thing we need to do is set that revenue number.” And they did.
Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.
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