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Eye On Boise

Tue., Jan. 19, 2010, 7:56 a.m.

Cameron: ‘All likelihood’ of further holdbacks

JFAC Co-Chair Dean Cameron, R-Rupert, says "in all likelihood" the state will have to impose yet another holdback, beyond the 1.6 percent additional mid-year budget cut already proposed by Gov. Butch Otter. "That was based on numbers as of Nov. 30th," Cameron said of the governor's proposal. "We already know that December's numbers have come in and they're well below what the governor projected. That speaks to an additional holdback beyond the 1.6." He asked Health & Welfare Director Dick Armstrong, "How does the department handle an additional reduction beyond the 1.6 percent, because in all likelihood that's what you're going to be faced with?"

Armstrong said people waiting in the department's packed waiting rooms may not get served the same day. "If they're in line beyond a certain point, they won't be seen that day and they'll have to come back," Armstrong said. "But even with that, my gut tells me that we will probably have to look at the closure of some offices, because we have to get both the operating and the personnel costs down, which would lead to some layoffs. At some point your system can't operate if you have too many people gone on furlough. ... We simply will not be able to fill all the chairs."

Cameron responded that he wanted to see proposals for more efficiencies. With budget cuts, he said, "If there's a silver lining at times, it's the overall re-evaluation of how we're doing things."

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Eye On Boise

Short takes and breaking news from the Idaho Legislature and the state capital.