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Eye On Boise archive for Jan. 1, 2010

MONDAY, JAN. 18, 2010

Dems decide to close caucuses 

Idaho's House and Senate minority caucuses have voted to close their meetings to the public, after having them open to the public for nearly a decade while GOP caucuses remained closed. "This change is effective immediately," according to a press release from Democratic leadership. "If...

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Legislative Services Director Jeff Youtz makes his budget presentation to the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee, the first of an array of hearings on state agency budgets that are showing the results of recent budget cuts. Under Gov. Butch Otter's budget proposal, more cuts lie ahead both this year and next. (Betsy Russell)

The results of budget cuts...

JFAC has started budget hearings for state agencies with the Legislative Services Office. It's the first of an array of hearings that will reveal how budget cuts have translated into changes on the ground in agencies throughout state government; also up today are the state...

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Lights are on at the state Capitol this morning, though it's an official state holiday, Martin Luther King Jr./Idaho Human Rights Day. The Legislature, which doesn't take holidays, is in session. (Betsy Russell)

Holiday or not, Legislature is in session

Today is an official state holiday - Martin Luther King Jr./Idaho Human Rights Day - but there's a reason all the lights are on in the state Capitol. Unlike all other state agencies, the state Legislature doesn't take holidays - it's in session. You'll find...

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Another approach to exemptions... 

Rep. Wendy Jaquet, D-Ketchum, has drafted legislation calling for setting up a state commission that would review all Idaho state sales tax exemptions one or more times every eight years, and report its findings and recommendations to the Legislature, including whether each one should be...

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FRIDAY, JAN. 15, 2010

The week that was...

Here's a link to the first week of Idaho's legislative session in pictures, as a slide show. Let your cursor hover over the bottom part of the picture frame, and the captions will appear as the slide show plays. Tonight on Idaho Public Television's Idaho...

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MLK Day events include Tea Party? 

Gov. Butch Otter and First Lady Lori Otter will present an official state proclamation Monday at the state's Martin Luther King Jr./Idaho Human Rights Day celebration, which will begin Monday at noon on the second floor of the Idaho State Capitol, in the rotunda. The...

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State board OKs 'Race to the Top'

The Idaho State Board of Education, in a special meeting, has voted unanimously, 7-0, to approve the state's application for "Race to the Top" federal grant funds. State Schools Supt. Tom Luna proposed the grant application, which includes a pilot program on teacher incentive pay,...

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State Parks Director Nancy Merrill addresses a subcommittee of the House Resources Committee. Gov. Butch Otter has proposed a "conceptual" plan to eliminate the parks department. (Betsy Russell)

Parks chief addresses lawmakers, says nothing 

There was quite a bit of interest in the first speaker to address a rather obscure subcommittee of the House Resources Committee today: State Parks Director Nancy Merrill. She's at the center of one of Gov. Butch Otter's most controversial budget cuts for next year...

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House Education Chairman Bob Nonini, R-Coeur d'Alene, is worried about a proposal to have cash-strapped school districts borrow against their budgets for next year to make it through this year. (Betsy Russell)

School borrowing plan raises doubts

The deal struck between Gov. Butch Otter, House Speaker Lawerence Denney and Senate President Pro-Tem Bob Geddes - to hit public schools with a new budget holdback but let districts that can't come up with their share of the $27.9 million in cuts borrow from...

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A series of tragedies...

While the world is reeling over the tragedy of the earthquake in Haiti, the Idaho Legislature has been hit with several personal tragedies this week involving its members and former members. The wife of Rep. Jim Marriott, R-Blackfoot, passed away Wednesday. The grandson of Rep....

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THURSDAY, JAN. 14, 2010

House Republicans caucus over revenues 

The House Majority Caucus went behind closed doors this afternoon for an hour and a half, concerned about the latest state tax revenue figures and their implications on state budgeting. "What would be nice is to have the crystal ball," said House Majority Caucus Chair...

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Idaho transportation officials including Chief Engineer Tom Cole and Deputy Director Scott Stokes make a presentation to a joint meeting of the House and Senate transportation committees. (Betsy Russell)

ITD braces for 'Stimulus II'

At a joint meeting of the House and Senate transportation committees this afternoon, state transportation officials told lawmakers they're scrambling to prepare for what they're calling "Stimulus II," federal legislation also known as the 2010 Jobs Bill that could potentially bring another $182 million to...

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Idaho gets $14M to fight bark beetles

The U.S. Forest Service will get an additional $14 million to battle bark beetles in Idaho, where the bugs have chewed through 1.3 million acres, reports S-R reporter Becky Kramer; you can read her story here at spokesman.com. The beetles leave mountainsides covered with red...

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C'dA Basin cleanup ahead of schedule

Cleanup of contaminated residential yards and other properties in the Coeur d'Alene Basin is so far ahead of schedule that state lawmakers today authorized speeding up spending to do even more work this year. "We've been very, very pleased with what the contractors in North...

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Why revenue meeting was canceled...

Here's why the Joint Economic Outlook and Revenue Assessment Committee canceled its meeting that was supposed to be today, the meeting at which the panel chooses a revenue figure on which it recommends setting the state budget: They're waiting for the latest state tax revenue...

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Firefighting bill: $7.2 million

JFAC has voted to pay off its first big bill, the $7.2 million left from firefighting in the fiscal year that ended on June 30 of 2009. Last year, the Legislature changed its usual procedure for paying wildfire bills so it knows in advance what...

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Rep. Shirley Ringo, D-Moscow, speaks out during a Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee hearing on Thursday morning. (Betsy Russell)

Making govt look smaller? 

Legislative budget writers this morning reviewed Gov. Butch Otter's proposal to trim more than 400 positions from the state payroll, most of which already are vacant. Wayne Hammon, Otter's budget chief, presented a report showing a total reduction of 463, including 379 positions that already...

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WEDNESDAY, JAN. 13, 2010

Idaho Superintendent of Schools Tom Luna discusses school funding with reporters on Wednesday (Betsy Russell)

Luna: School cuts should 'alarm' Idaho parents 

State Superintendent of Schools Tom Luna today explained why his figures on looming cuts in school budgets are different from those in the governor's budget presentation: He's not counting just state general funds, but all funds. Luna, who held a round-table with reporters today to...

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