The Department of Commerce had its budget set by JFAC this morning at the governor’s recommended level, which reflects a 0.6 percent increase in state general funds, and a 14.5 percent decrease in total funds, due to the removal of a big one-time expenditure last year for the Small Business Credit Initiative, which came from dedicated funds. The budget includes $3 million for the Business and Jobs Development Fund, which has also been called the “director’s fund” and legislation now pending this year would rename the Idaho Opportunity Fund.
The money would be shifted from the state general fund to a dedicated fund, where it could be spent over several years. It’s intended to help secure new jobs, both at existing and new businesses, through funding local community infrastructure projects like sewer lines and broadband extensions.
There’s been some confusion about how the $3 million affects the department’s bottom-line budget. Although the governor recommended it be transferred from the department’s existing budget, he also allocated $3 million in general funds there to allow the transfer, so the result is that the department’s operations don’t suffer from the shift.
Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.
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