Eye On Boise

Lawmaker questions continued state funding phase-out for Human Rights Commission

Sen. Nicole LeFavour, D-Boise, raises concerns Wednesday about continued cuts in state funding for the Idaho Human Rights Commission; that funding is being replaced with federal funds from the state Department of Labor. (Betsy Russell)
Sen. Nicole LeFavour, D-Boise, raises concerns Wednesday about continued cuts in state funding for the Idaho Human Rights Commission; that funding is being replaced with federal funds from the state Department of Labor. (Betsy Russell)

As JFAC set the budget for the state Department of Labor this morning, Sen. Nicole LeFavour, D-Boise, raised concerns about the continuing inclusion in that budget of a "general fund phase-out" for the Idaho Human Rights Commission, cutting state general funds to that agency by $156,600 next year for the third straight year; after four years, the commission would have no general funds. The money is being replaced with dedicated funds, including federal funds, from the Department of Labor.

"Really, to continue phasing out those general funds for a really critical agency - they protect employers," LeFavour said. "I'm surprised to find that phaseout language in there. ... I think it'd be better if we reassessed that."

But Labor Director Roger Madsen told the joint committee that he believes the Human Rights Commission is more secure with dedicated funds than with state general funds. "We hope the Human Rights Commission does stay in our agency. We think they're a great fit with our agency, and we're committed to full funding," he said. He acknowledged that the department's budget is stressed, but said he's protected the Human Rights Commission from cuts.

Given that assurance, LeFavour withdrew her substitute motion, which sought to reverse next year's general-fund phaseout, and a budget for Labor for next year that's close to the governor's recommendation passed unanimously on an 18-0 vote. Gov. Butch Otter called for the phase-out two years ago, when he targeted a number of agencies; the Human Rights Commission is the only one still seeing annual state funding phase-outs.
 




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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Russell covers Idaho news from the state capitol in Boise and writes the Eye on Boise blog.

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