Gov. Butch Otter sent a letter to the co-chairs of the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee late yesterday responding to legislative inquiries about cuts he’s making in several early childhood programs, including Parents as Teachers. Otter said in the letter that the decision to eliminate federal welfare funds for “Generation of the Child” programs was “difficult,” but was driven by concerns over rules for spending the federal funds and the prospect of declines in the federal funds in future years.
JFAC members were given copies of the letter and briefed on it while on a bus tour in north-central Idaho, but took no immediate action on it. “We just listened and that was the end of it,” said House Appropriations Chairwoman Maxine Bell, R-Jerome.
In his letter, Otter wrote, “While many Generation of the Child programs have great merit, and some may even be considered necessary – especially in Idaho’s rural areas – we must be responsible stewards of taxpayer dollars. (State schools) Superintendent (Tom) Luna is working with my office and the Department of Health and Welfare to find alternative funding streams and improve accountability measures to ensure the needs of Idaho children and parents are met responsibly.”
Sen. Joyce Broadsword, R-Sagle, said, “I am pleased that the governor has acknowledged that it is a valuable program.” Broadsword said she remains hopeful that some alternative funding can be identified.