Some Idaho lawmakers are upset by State Schools Superintendent Tom Luna's announcement that a $2.1 million annual statewide Wi-Fi network contract will run for up to 15 years — without prior legislative budget approval.
Luna's office said Wednesday Education Networks of America won the contract to equip as many as 340 Idaho high schools with the wireless Internet technology. Nine companies submitted bids. ENA's came in under the $2.25 million set aside by the 2013 Legislature for next year.
Idaho ended its 2013 fiscal year with 6.3 percent more revenue than in 2012. The Division of Financial Management, under the governor's office, reports tax collections for fiscal year 2013 came in at 3.5 percent above projections. Idaho collected $2.75 billion during the budget year that ended June 30.
The Division reports all general fund revenue categories posted higher-than-expected collections totals.
An Idaho pro-business lobbying group says a decision by Idaho lawmakers not to expand Medicaid to cover more low-income residents will cost $12.3 million to $18.5 million a year in penalties for large companies that don't insure their employees.
The Idaho Statesmanreports that the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry also says it will cost an unspecified amount for businesses whose insurance and taxes subsidize care for the uninsured.
The 2013 Idaho Legislature adjourned on April 4. Legislators debated everything from health care to public education funding. We brought you the major stories from the 62nd regular session, including the creation of a state-based health insurance exchange. Now it’s time to do the numbers, with a little help from the recently released end of session report:
For some, public land in the west is a place to camp and recreate. For all of us, these lands are a source of water and the air we breath. That’s especially true in Idaho - where more than half of the land is federally owned and managed. Now, some states like Idaho and Oregon want to take over the management of these federal lands.
Idaho’s 2013 legislative session is over. Lawmakers passed the last bills they were willing to tackle before noon Thursday.
In the last minutes of a legislative session lawmakers get in a weird mood. They give emotional speeches, recite poetry, a few senators even sang an original song about going home on the floor as the Senate wrapped up its final business
The final gavel has come down and the 2013 Idaho legislative session is over. Both the Senate and the House passed the $1.3 billion public schools budget. That budget is nearly identical to the one the Senate rejected last week, a move that prolonged the session by nearly a week.
Idaho’s 2013 legislative session is expected to wrap up Thursday. Passing the public education budget has held lawmakers up. Wednesday another of the session’s big education issues cleared its final hurdle before heading to the governor’s desk. But the overhaul of the state’s charter school law is not what backers had hoped it would be.
When the 2013 legislative session wraps up, a big policy question will remain: Will the state make Medicaid available to a greater number of Idaho’s poor? The federal health care law encourages that move. It’s a debate that involves potential costs and savings, along with patient well-being. And it turns quickly to chronic conditions, like mental illness.
Boise State political science professor Gary Moncrief calls what happened Wednesday in the Idaho Senate extraordinary. A plan approved by the Joint Finance and Appropriations Committee, known as JFAC, died on a 17 to 18 vote.
“Usually, in fact almost always what goes to the floor from JFAC is accepted on the floor,” Moncrief says.
Updated 10:59 p.m. Idaho Senators narrowly missed signing off on a proposed $1.3 billion education budget Wednesday. The 17-18 vote sends the bill back to the budget writing committee. The legislation which calls for a more than 2 percent increase for K-12 easily passed the House last week. Opponents focused on two problems in debate.
They argued providing more money to school districts for basic operations was more urgent than reversing some teacher salary cuts made during the recession.
Members of the Idaho House this week could vote on a measure that puts the state on record as opposing any form of legal marijuana. Such a vote would put Idaho at odds with the recent push to legalize pot in states like Washington and Colorado. Those who support the measure say approval would be a symbolic victory that would set Idaho apart. Opponents say lawmakers are out of touch on the issue.
A bill headed for the floor of the Idaho House would tap into the interest in hunting wolves to raise money for ranchers who lose livestock to those wolves. A legislative committee approved the measure Tuesday, despite legal concerns.
Idaho lawmakers who represent ranching country say it's now up to the state to cover losses caused by wolves. Federal compensation funds are another casualty of the automatic budget cuts known as the sequester.
Idaho lawmakers fundamentally opposed to the federal health care law made a final effort to convince their colleagues to reject a state-based health insurance exchange, but to no avail. The bill which will create a state-based online insurance marketplace passed the Senate 23-12, sending the measure to Gov. C.L.
In January, 231,647 people in Idaho were on food stamps. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, helps low-income families. But in Idaho, 17 percent of people are food insecure. The hunger relief charity Feeding America says they don’t have access to enough food for an active, healthy life.
Click on a county to find out how many people are on food stamps, and how many are food insecure.