Idaho House Lawmakers Kill Arts Commission Budget

Mar 10, 2016

Credit Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

House lawmakers pulled a surprise move Thursday and killed the modest funding proposal for the Commission on the Arts.

The Idaho House voted 36-33 to spike the $1.9 million budget proposal with no lawmakers debating in favor or against. The budget would have bumped funding by 2.6 percent for fiscal year 2017.

Eight Democratic lawmakers voted alongside Republicans to throw out the commission's budget.

Minority Leader John Rusche says the Democrats were trying to send a message to the Republicans. Rusche told the Associated Press that Democratic proposals in the legislature could not be ignored if Republicans expect them to back budget proposals. 

After the initial vote against the budget, Rusche made a motion to reconsider the bill. He and the other seven Democrats then switched their vote in favor of reconsidering the arts commission budget. But ten Republicans – who had originally voted for the proposal – voted against reconsidering the budget bill.  The proposal is now dead. 

Executive Director of the Idaho Commission on the Arts Michael Faison says he’s paying close attention to the budgeting process. The commission is celebrating their 50th anniversary this year.

“We certainly are following the developments as the Legislature’s continuing its work. But I believe it would be premature if I made any additional comments about it at this time,” Faison says.

There’s still time for the Joint Finance Appropriations Committee to come up with a new funding bill for the commission. However, a new proposal could delay the estimated March 24 end of the session.

Find Frankie Barnhill on Twitter @FABarnhill

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