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Eye On Boise

Target budget would mean 8.5 percent cut in state funding next year for schools

JFAC is now going over the entire plan that its co-chairs, staff and others have been working on for weeks to make the fiscal year 2011 budget balance and all its pieces fit together, from shifts of reserve funds, to tapping benefit reserves to fund state employee benefits, to making deep cuts in all programs, including Medicaid and public schools. Each agency's budget still has to be set, and committee members could make motions that don't match the target plan. Senate Co-Chair Dean Cameron, R-Rupert, said an agreement has been reached with all education stakeholders, including state Superintendent of Schools Tom Luna, on which line items to fund in the public schools budget to fit it into a target of $1.214 billion for next year. "Now obviously that doesn't stop any of you from making a motion that's either higher or lower than that 1.214 billion, but at this point we do have agreement as to how that money would be allocated into all the programs, how much is in salary-based support ... etc.," Cameron said. Overall, the target would mean a cut in state general funds for public schools next year of 8.5 percent.

Legislative budget director Cathy Holland-Smith, who presented multiple handouts to the committee on the plan, cautioned that it's "not a finished product," and said, "The environment that we're in right now we have never experienced before." Cameron called it "a very somber budget." To make it balance, funding was removed for Medicaid pricing increases that are not mandated by the federal government. Cameron said, "This is simply a blueprint so that you can see how we could balance the budget." The final decisions, he noted, are still to be made.

Eye On Boise

News, happenings and more from the Idaho Legislature and the state capital.