Idaho Lt. Gov. Brad Little felt at home at the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee when he came to present his budget this morning. “I started here in 1976,” he told the committee. “I interned in this committee in college in 1976.” He later went on to serve on the panel. Little said the JFAC structure is a vast improvement over how most state legislatures handle the budget process, because it’s transparent, bipartisan and bicameral. “For a small state, we have a very sophisticated budget process,” he said.
Little’s budget presentation was short: “My request is for $142,800 and lump-sum authority. Any questions?” he said. Sen. Dean Mortimer questioned how Little’s “austere budget” covers his expenses. “You do a significant amount of travel and your operating expenses are extremely modest,” Mortimer said, asking Little how he does it. Little said his travel budget is about $400 a month, and “that’s one ride on the state plane with the governor.” So he combines trips and rides along with other state officials whenever possible. He has one full-time employee and one part-timer, and typically turns back 7 to 10 percent of his budget to the general fund unspent at the end of each year.