The Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee is setting budgets this morning, and it’s getting into what Co-Chair Maxine Bell, R-Jerome, calls “the heavy lifting.” The biggest budgets up this morning are for the Idaho State Police and the Department of Juvenile Corrections. Also on today’s schedule are budgets for the governor’s office, the division of financial management, and the legislative branch. Those are all pretty much just maintenance budgets, but the budget for the Legislature includes a line item: A $1 million transfer from the general fund to the Constitutional Defense Fund. Gov. Butch Otter recommended the transfer, and JFAC members endorsed it on a 17-2 vote, with Reps. Phylis King, D-Boise, and Shirley Ringo, D-Moscow, objecting.
The Constitutional Defense Fund, by law, can be spent “to examine and challenge, by legal action or legislation, federal mandates, court rulings, and authority of the federal government, or any activity that threatens the sovereignty and authority of the state and the well-being of its citizens.”