Longtime Idaho Secretary of State Ben Ysursa gave his final budget presentation to lawmakers this morning, as he’s retiring after his current term. Holding up a hand-written sheet of paper, he said, “This is my Basque Powerpoint that I’ll hand in later.” Amid laughter, JFAC Co-Chair Maxine Bell, R-Jerome, told Ysursa, “I think you and I are of the same generation.”
Ysursa said when it comes to his budget, “Every other year, I’m a hero or a goat. This is the year I’m a goat.” That’s because it’s an election year – the year his budget contains $300,000 for election costs that go away in non-election years. Much of that goes for the costs of constitutional amendments and initiatives, for which the office prepares voter pamphlets. “If we don’t have ‘em, we turn it back,” Ysursa said.
“We have two initiatives being circulated at the current time. I call them weed and wages,” he told legislative budget writers. “Medical marijuana has 208 signatures verified; the deadline is April 30. Minimum wage, about 6,000 signatures. They both need 53,751 signatures by April 30.” He said, “Obviously, I believe medical the marijuana one has a long ways to go. The minimum wage, with current conditions … that may or may not get there. … If in fact they do qualify, then we do the voters pamphlet. We also have the voters pamphlet on any constitutional amendments. … Right now there are none, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be any by the end of the session.”
Ysursa said his office has launched a new online filing system for campaign finance reports. “It’s in a pilot stage, hasn’t been used,” he said. “Hopefully it will be used some more, but we’re getting it.” Similar applications are in the works for lobbyist filings, he said; extensive online filing systems already are in place for commercial and business filings, which Ysursa said allow his office to be open for filings “24/7.” “We operate at the speed of business. … It’s key in our office,” he said. “The internet has been a godsend to serve the people the most efficient way we can.”
Bell told Ysursa, “Thank you for your years of service. I hope when I leave they liken me to your service, because you’ve been a true public servant. Thank you so much.”