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Eye On Boise

JFAC sets a series of tight agency budgets, all at or below gov’s recommendation

Budgets were set by the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee this morning for another batch of state agencies, including public health districts, the Veterans Services Division, state medical boards, the Division of Human Resources, PERSI, the Commission on the Arts, state treasurer, lieutenant governor, and State Independent Living Council; all were set at or below Gov. Butch Otter’s budget recommendations.

The joint committee approved pay raises for certain positions at the medical boards, including the executive director of the Board of Nursing, the associated director of the Board of Medicine, and staffers at the Board of Veterinary Medicine; none of those use any state general tax funds, and other trims in the boards' budget request offset the increase. The committee urged the Division of Veterans Services to fund pay increases from personnel savings within the division, without a budget boost, in line with statewide intent language adopted a day earlier; it didn’t fund a series of requests from the division for increased funding to allow for salary increases. The budget for the lieutenant governor’s office included a pay raise that’s already required by state law for state elected officials. None of the other agency budgets include funding for raises.

JFAC also added “intent language” to the state treasurer’s budget, requiring that no more than $10,000 from the general fund can be spent for activities relating to conferences; and that no dedicated funds from the budget can be used for conference expenses unless specifically authorized by law. State Treasurer Ron Crane was dinged in an audit report last year for spending state general funds to support the “Smart Women, Smart Money” conference in fiscal years 2011 and 2012, though the conference was not specifically authorized by statute.

On Thursday, budgets up for setting include those for the Idaho Attorney General’s office and the State Appellate Public Defender.

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Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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