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Eye On Boise archive for Jan. 2010

THURSDAY, JAN. 21, 2010

'No place else to turn' 

This morning, JFAC wrapped up three days of hearings on Health & Welfare budgets, with more troubling news about soaring caseloads, crimped funds and Idahoans being pushed onto public assistance by the economic downturn. Russ Barron, administrator of the Welfare Division, said, "The number of…

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For the highly-qualified spouse... 

Here's a news item from the AP: The State Board of Education wants to undo a law forbidding spouses of Idaho university presidents from being hired at the schools. Mark Browning, an Ed Board spokesman, told the House Education Committee Thursday university presidents often come…

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Ward adds three more stops to 14-stop tour

Congressional candidate Vaughn Ward said today he's adding three more stops to his planned 14-stop "official announcement tour" next week, in McCall, Fruitland and Weiser, making it a 17-stop tour. Ward and state Rep. Raul Labrador are vying for the GOP nomination in the 1st…

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Guv plans parks announcement 

Gov. Butch Otter has scheduled a press conference for Friday at 11 a.m. with Nancy Merrill, director of the state Department of Parks & Recreation, for "an important announcement about Parks and Recreation management." Otter's budget proposal for next year included a "conceptual" proposal to…

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Roger Christensen, chairman of the state's Catastrophic Health Care Fund board, tells the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee about the fund's soaring bills to cover health crises for Idahoans who have nowhere else to turn, and aren't eligible for Medicaid or other assistance programs. (Betsy Russell)

CAT fund health bills soaring... 

Lawmakers are struggling with runaway costs in the state's Catastrophic Health Care Fund, thanks to the plunging economy that's thrown more Idahoans on the mercy of their county indigent programs when they have a health crisis. Counties pay up to $11,000 per case, and then…

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Rep. Mary Lou Shepherd, D-Prichard, spoke out in the House State Affairs Committee on Thursday morning in favor of legislation to do away with a tax return checkoff that allows taxpayers to direct $1 of their taxes to the political party of their choice. Shepherd said the state needs all the money in its general fund it can get; the bill passed the committee 16-1 and headed to the full House. (Betsy Russell)

Panel votes 16-1 to end party checkoff 

The House State Affairs Committee has voted 16-1 in favor of HB 379, the proposal from Rep. Lynn Luker, R-Boise, to do away with the tax form check-off through which Idaho taxpayers can donate $1 to the political party of their choice, without paying any…

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About the numbers... 

So, just what does the revenue figure set by the Joint Economic Outlook & Revenue Assessment Committee yesterday signify? It's a recommendation to leadership and JFAC, but JFAC isn't bound by it. For many years, after taking testimony from economists, business leaders and more, the…

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WEDNESDAY, JAN. 20, 2010

A long and wild day...

It's been a long and wild day in the Statehouse. Here's a link to my full story on the outcome of today's stormy debate and votes in the Joint Economic Outlook & Revenue Assessment Committee, and here's a link to my full story on Rep.…

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'Trying to salvage what I could get'

Here's why Sen. Jim Hammond, R-Post Falls, decided to second Sen. Russ Fulcher's motion on the state revenue estimate: "I could see where things were going, and they were going to an even more conservative number, and so I was trying to salvage what I…

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New revenue estimate would force more cuts

The successful motion, made by Sen. Russ Fulcher and seconded by Sen Jim Hammond, R-Post Falls, sets fy 2010 revenue at 2.280 billion - which is $69 million below the governor's figure, and means, if the state budgets actually are set based on these figures,…

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Committee passes Fulcher motion

The vote was 13-5; Sen. Russ Fulcher's motion has passed. Voting yes were Reps. Kren, Lake, Roberts, Henderson, McGeachin, Bayer, Bedke, and Sens. Fulcher, Hill, Bair, Hammond, Geddes and Keough. Voting no were Reps. Sayler, Killen and LeFavour and Sens. Goedde and Bilyeu.

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More motions...

Rep. Bill Killen, D-Boise, has proposed a substitute motion at the average of committee members' projections, which is below the median projection. It's $2.3315 billion for fy 2010, and $2.3756 billion for fy 2011. Sen. Nicole LeFavour, D-Boise, who seconded the motion, said, "To make…

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Roberts motion: Cut $120M more this year

Rep. Ken Roberts, R-Donnelly, has proposed a new motion setting revenue for both fiscal years 2010 and 2011 at $2.25 billion. That would force the Legislature to cut another $120 million from the current year's budgets - meaning far more holdbacks than Gov. Butch Otter…

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Members of the Joint Economic Outlook & Revenue Assessment Committee mix and discuss during a 10-minute break before a key vote Wednesday. (Betsy Russell)

A quick break before the vote...

With some committee members uncertain about what was in which motion, the Joint Economic Outlook and Revenue Assessment Committee is taking a 10-minute break to make sure the figures are clearly laid out for all members before a vote.

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Lawmaker: 'Our task is a daunting one'

The joint committee on revenue is now debating the three motions. "We do not have the luxury this year of missing it like we did last year," said House Assistant Majority Leader Scott Bedke, R-Oakley, who said he favors Sen. Russ Fulcher's substitute motion or…

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Three motions on the table for state revenue...

House Tax Chairman Dennis Lake, R-Blackfoot, moved to propose the Joint Economic Outlook & Revenue Assessment Committee's median projection as the recommended revenue projection for fy 2011, and accept the governor's figure for 2010. Then, Sen. Russ Fulcher, R-Meridian, proposed a much lower figure: $2.28…

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Mike Ferguson, chief economist for Gov. Butch Otter, answers questions from lawmakers about the state's revenue outlook on Wednesday. (Betsy Russell)

Short $12.6M, but 'some actual good news' too

December state tax revenues are down by $12.6 million from forecasts, Mike Ferguson, chief economist for Gov. Butch Otter, told the Joint Economic Outlook & Revenue Assessment Committee. You can see Ferguson's complete handout to the committee here. Despite the bottom-line drop, "There is embedded…

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House Dems, Senate GOP hold caucuses

Senate Republicans caucused for about half an hour today, and House Democrats for an hour. GOP senators had Senate Finance Chairman Dean Cameron give an update on state revenues and the governor's budget recommendation. "This is the first opportunity we've had to give the full…

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State gearing up for future fossil finds

Idaho could find a whole lot more big fossils - wooly mammoths and the like - in coming years as big energy transmission projects spread across the fossil-rich southern and eastern portions of the state, and state officials want to gear up by shifting some…

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Eye On Boise

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



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