On a 58-10 vote, the House has approved SB 1206 to create a “Youth Challenge Program” under the Idaho National Guard in Pierce. Rep. John Vander Woude, R-Nampa, debated against the bill, saying Idaho shouldn't accept federal money for the program. “We send people to Washington and say, 'Balance the budget, cut spending,' and we turn around and say we're not going to do anything to help you,” he said. “This to me is an excellent program, but I don't think it's the time to start a whole new program.” Rep. Marv Hagedorn, R-Meridian, said, “This is a pay-me-now or pay-me-later deal.” The high school dropouts who are targeted for the military-operated youth program will find it “life-changing,” he said. “This is a program that takes private dollars and matches it with available federal dollars.” The Albertson Foundation has committed to providing part of the matching funds.
Among those joining VanderWoude in opposing the bill were Reps. Vito Barbieri, R-Dalton Gardens; Phil Hart, R-Athol; and Shannon McMillan, R-Silverton. The bill now goes to Gov. Butch Otter. It was the last vote for the House this year; the House is now preparing to adjourn sine die.
Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.
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