The House has convened and recessed indefinitely, as the entire House GOP leadership team headed off to meet with Gov. Butch Otter again. The Senate convened, did some formal business, and then recessed until 2 p.m. for caucuses for both parties. Senate Majority Leader Bart Davis, R-Idaho Falls, told the Senate, “There are a lot of irons in the fire. Things are, fluid is perhaps an understatement.” Davis said this morning’s Senate majority caucus will be “for purposes of giving you a brief update on what we do know,” and he’s expecting another caucus this afternoon after the Senate re-convenes at 2 p.m. In the open Senate Democratic Caucus, some of the talk is about school districts that already are taking steps to declare financial emergencies. Said Sen. Diane Bilyeu, D-Pocatello, “It’s really too bad if we can make a deal and take money out of the general fund, that it’s not being used for education.”
With the House opposed to a gas tax increase, there’s talk of alternatives for more funding for roads, including Gov. Butch Otter’s proposed shift of Idaho State Police funding off the gas tax and onto the general fund. But that still would require a source of funds for ISP, whether it’s fines, fees, or shifts. The governor’s proposal would have been phased in, with $3.2 million shifting to the general fund next year; the full amount is nearly $18 million.