The first shoe dropped yesterday, when the state Board of Education, after nine hours of agonizing, set big tuition hikes for Idaho state college and university students for next year in the wake of deep state budget cuts, approved in the recently concluded legislative session. Now comes the next shoe: The Idaho Department of Health & Welfare announced today that it is permanently closing nine of its 29 offices statewide and laying off 126 employees. “The closures will cause hardship and inconvenience for many people, but resources are not available to continue the current level of office support,” the department said in a news release; you can read the full Health & Welfare announcement here.
Communities whose local Health & Welfare offices will close within the next two months include American Falls, Bellevue, Bonners Ferry, Emmett, Jerome, McCall, Orofino, Rupert and Soda Springs; also, the size and functions at the St. Maries office will be reduced. Expect more shoes to drop as the implications of this year’s legislative budget-setting decisions become clear.
Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.
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