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Eye On Boise

Otter focuses higher-ed expansions on task force recs, so some small programs not recommended for boosts…

TechHelp is one of several special programs under the state Board of Education that requested small expansions next year, but for which Gov. Butch Otter didn’t recommend the funding. In response to questions from legislative budget writers this morning, DFM analyst David Hahn said with limited funds, when looking at higher education spending for next year, the governor prioritized the recommendations of his higher education improvement task force and university operations, “as opposed to doing a little bit for everyone.”

So the governor’s budget proposal doesn’t include funding for TechHelp’s proposal to add 2.5 positions and $310,800 in ongoing state funding next year for manufacturing specialists to work out of BSU, ISU and the U of I; the UI Ag Extension had committed to funding the additional half of one position to make it three full-time positions.

For the same reasons, Otter didn’t recommend a $53,500 request from the Small Business Development Centers for two additional part-time positions in northern and eastern Idaho to assist Idaho businesses with government contracting.

TechHelp is a program under the state Board of Education that provides manufacturing consulting services to small- and medium-sized companies in Idaho; it’s a partnership of the state’s three public universities. It also serves as the state’s Economic Development Administration University Center, and works on food safety issues. The program’s executive director, Steve Hatten, told the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee today that the program works directly with more than 100 companies each year.

JFAC members had high praise for the work of both the SBDC and TechHelp.

Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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