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Idaho agencies told to halt spending

BOISE - The co-chair of the Legislature’s joint budget committee has called on all state agencies to halt spending of any one-time money or capital outlay money they have in their budgets this year “until further notice.”

Said Sen. Dean Cameron, R-Rupert, “We look forward to working with the governor’s office until we have an opportunity to take this information and consult with them, and consult with our leadership. We would ask them not to spend any of their onetime or capital outlay money that they may have sitting in their agency budgets.”

That came just after the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee had voted unanimously to receive the report of the Economic Outlook and Revenue Assessment Committee, which is proposing a revenue estimate for the coming year that’s $101 million less than the governor’s prediction. JFAC didn’t commit to budgeting based on that new lower figure – that was left open for now.

Sen. John Goedde, R-Coeur d’Alene, co-chair of the revenue committee, told JFAC members, “Certainly if this committee is going to err, the error should be on the side of caution.” Rep. Shirley Ringo, D-Moscow, commented, “I don’t consider taking too big a slice out of our potential revenue to be erring on the side of caution, particularly when you look at programs that we need to move our state toward recovery and we can hurt ourselves.”

But others on JFAC spoke out for caution. “Although it is disturbing, I have to support the committee’s recommendation,” said Rep. George Eskridge, R-Dover. “I am inclined to believe that the committee’s report may even be too optimistic. … I’ve talked to too many people in my district that are unemployed, out of a job, looking for a place to work.” Sen. Nicole LeFavour, D-Boise, noted that her estimate was among the most pessimistic of those on the revenue committee. “I’ve never wanted in my life to be so wrong,” she said.

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