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Eye On Boise archive for Jan. 2010

FRIDAY, JAN. 15, 2010

A series of tragedies...

While the world is reeling over the tragedy of the earthquake in Haiti, the Idaho Legislature has been hit with several personal tragedies this week involving its members and former members. The wife of Rep. Jim Marriott, R-Blackfoot, passed away Wednesday. The grandson of Rep.…

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THURSDAY, JAN. 14, 2010

House Republicans caucus over revenues 

The House Majority Caucus went behind closed doors this afternoon for an hour and a half, concerned about the latest state tax revenue figures and their implications on state budgeting. "What would be nice is to have the crystal ball," said House Majority Caucus Chair…

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Idaho transportation officials including Chief Engineer Tom Cole and Deputy Director Scott Stokes make a presentation to a joint meeting of the House and Senate transportation committees. (Betsy Russell)

ITD braces for 'Stimulus II'

At a joint meeting of the House and Senate transportation committees this afternoon, state transportation officials told lawmakers they're scrambling to prepare for what they're calling "Stimulus II," federal legislation also known as the 2010 Jobs Bill that could potentially bring another $182 million to…

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Idaho gets $14M to fight bark beetles

The U.S. Forest Service will get an additional $14 million to battle bark beetles in Idaho, where the bugs have chewed through 1.3 million acres, reports S-R reporter Becky Kramer; you can read her story here at The beetles leave mountainsides covered with red…

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C'dA Basin cleanup ahead of schedule

Cleanup of contaminated residential yards and other properties in the Coeur d'Alene Basin is so far ahead of schedule that state lawmakers today authorized speeding up spending to do even more work this year. "We've been very, very pleased with what the contractors in North…

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Why revenue meeting was canceled...

Here's why the Joint Economic Outlook and Revenue Assessment Committee canceled its meeting that was supposed to be today, the meeting at which the panel chooses a revenue figure on which it recommends setting the state budget: They're waiting for the latest state tax revenue…

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Firefighting bill: $7.2 million

JFAC has voted to pay off its first big bill, the $7.2 million left from firefighting in the fiscal year that ended on June 30 of 2009. Last year, the Legislature changed its usual procedure for paying wildfire bills so it knows in advance what…

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Rep. Shirley Ringo, D-Moscow, speaks out during a Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee hearing on Thursday morning. (Betsy Russell)

Making govt look smaller? 

Legislative budget writers this morning reviewed Gov. Butch Otter's proposal to trim more than 400 positions from the state payroll, most of which already are vacant. Wayne Hammon, Otter's budget chief, presented a report showing a total reduction of 463, including 379 positions that already…

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WEDNESDAY, JAN. 13, 2010

Idaho Superintendent of Schools Tom Luna discusses school funding with reporters on Wednesday (Betsy Russell)

Luna: School cuts should 'alarm' Idaho parents 

State Superintendent of Schools Tom Luna today explained why his figures on looming cuts in school budgets are different from those in the governor's budget presentation: He's not counting just state general funds, but all funds. Luna, who held a round-table with reporters today to…

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December shortfall shrinks to $12.6M

The early, preliminary estimate of a $13 million shortfall in December's state tax revenues has now shrunk to $12.6 million, according to Gov. Butch Otter's budget chief, Wayne Hammon. "That's why we don't release it, because it always changes," he said. Yesterday, under questioning by…

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Legislative budget analyst Keith Bybee reports to legislative budget writers on furlough hours taken so far by state employees due to budget cuts. (Betsy Russell)

State furlough hours already adding up

In the last two fiscal years, the state has laid off 295 employees, according to a report legislative budget analyst Keith Bybee just presented to JFAC. That was 149 in fiscal year 2009, and 146 so far in the current year, fy 2010. (Bybee cautioned…

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TUESDAY, JAN. 12, 2010

Reactions and reactions to reactions... 

As reactions to Gov. Butch Otter's State of the State and budget message continue to ripple across the state, the Senate majority leadership this afternoon sent out a press release reacting to the House and Senate Democrats' comments at a press conference this morning in…

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Keith Allred, Democratic candidate for governor, in the Idaho state capitol on Monday (Betsy Russell)

Candidates tout fundraising numbers 

The deadline for filing campaign finance reports that cover the period through Dec. 31 hasn't yet arrived, but two candidates already are releasing numbers. Keith Allred, Democratic candidate for governor, announced today that in the three weeks since he filed his declaration of candidacy on…

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Legislative task force 'punted'

"At the end of the day, we punted," Rep. Maxine Bell, R-Jerome, co-chair of the Task Force to Identify Alternative Funding Sources for the Idaho State Police and Idaho Department of Parks & Recreation, told the Legislative Council. "We did not want to jump out…

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Rep. George Eskridge, R-Dover, reports to the Legislative Council on the work of the interim committee on Energy, Environment & Technology. Each of the Legislature's interim committees and task forces reported Tuesday on its work since last year's session.  (Betsy Russell)

Interim committees report back

Members of the Legislative Council are now hearing reports from each of the interim legislative committees and task forces, which have mostly modest agendas this year given the budget crisis. First up was Rep. George Eskridge, R-Dover, co-chairman of the Energy, Environment & Technology interim…

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Gov OK with H&W Friday furloughs

Gov. Butch Otter's not surprised to see Health & Welfare order Friday furloughs for hundreds of employees, his press secretary, Jon Hanian, told Eye on Boise. "We, I think, knew that there was going to be a mix of these type of measures, and obviously…

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Health & Welfare orders 'Friday furloughs' 

All Idaho Health & Welfare offices except state hospitals will close at noon every other Friday for the rest of the year, and the employees will be on furlough for those half-days. Notice of the move went out to all of the department's employees yesterday…

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House Minority Leader John Rusche, D-Lewiston, speaks at the House and Senate Democrats' response to Gov. Butch Otter's State of the State message and budget proposal. (Betsy Russell)

Democrats respond to State of the State

House and Senate Democrats gathered this morning to give their response to yesterday's State of the State message, calling proposed cuts to education short-sighted and saying they favor using all available resources to help bring the state out of the recession. "The current budget crisis…

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

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