Republican Gov. Phil Batt wants cash-strapped budget writers to earmark the $2 million he had analysts identify as unneeded payroll money given the University of Idaho to underwrite expanded engineering education in Boise.
In a statement issued on Wednesday, Batt said that cash can be used to get the expansion under way immediately rather than having to wait until the new budget takes effect in July.
The money was appropriated to the University of Idaho in the current budget to cover an extra pay period all other state agencies experience this year. But because Idaho does not operate on the same accounting system as the other agencies, it will not experience the extra payroll so the $2 million is not needed.
The disclosure several weeks ago left a number of lawmakers angered because university officials made no attempt to advise them that they would not have the extra pay period and would not need the cash when their budget was drafted a year ago.
Batt has backed expansion of the University of Idaho’s engineering program in Boise, but legislative budget analysts have pointed out that his budget plan for higher education did not include the money to carry it out.