Economy

Idaho Legislature
3:25 pm
Mon March 3, 2014

Plan To Slash Idaho's Income Tax Passes House

Credit Samantha Wright / Boise State Public Radio

A plan to snip Idaho income tax by $126 million over the next six years passed the House over objections that the state can't afford to lose that much revenue for the general fund.

The bill seeks to drop rates in all brackets from the current 7.4 percent to 6.8 percent, starting with a .1 percent cut in January.

Republican Rep. Mike Moyle, from Star, says that could make the state more attractive to businesses and put Idaho more in line with neighboring states.

Montana has an income tax rate of 6.9 percent and no sales tax.

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Agriculture
1:07 pm
Mon March 3, 2014

Hummus Popularity Has Idaho, Washington Farmers Growing Huge Chickpea Crops

The rising popularity of hummus across the nation has been good for farmers like Aaron Flansburg.

Flansburg, who farms 1,900 acres amid the rolling hills of southeastern Washington, has been increasing the amount of the chickpeas used to make hummus by about one-third each year to take advantage of good prices and demand.

"I hope that consumption keeps increasing," he said.

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Agriculture
1:21 am
Fri February 28, 2014

Drought Could Dry Up Nevada Dairy Farmers' Expansion Plans

There are about 2,000 dairy cows on Pete Olsen's fifth-generation farm in northern Nevada. A new milk processing plant is now putting pressure on Olsen and other dairy farmers to expand the size of their herds. But with the ongoing drought, farmers are struggling to get enough feed for the cows they already have.
Kirk Siegler/NPR

Originally published on Fri February 28, 2014 1:13 pm

When Pete Olsen talks about drought on his fifth-generation dairy farm in Fallon, Nev., he's really talking about the snowpack 60 miles to the west in the Sierra Nevada.

The Sierras, Olsen says, are their lifeblood.

That is, the snowmelt from them feeds the Truckee and Carson rivers and a tangle of reservoirs and canals that make this desert bloom. Some of the highest-grade alfalfa in the world is grown here. And it makes perfect feed for dairy cows, because it's rich in nutrients.

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Jobs
1:16 pm
Tue February 25, 2014

Boise Health Insurance Exchange Call Center Lays Off 1,600

A Boise call center that helps people sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act is laying off nearly its entire work force as the federal exchange open enrollment period ends.

Maximus Inc. hired about 1,800 people for the Boise facility last year.

In a letter to employees on Monday, company officials announced that 1,600 employees will be laid off in April because they won't be needed when the federal enrollment period ends. Company officials say some employees may be hired back this fall, in preparation for the next enrollment period.

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Agriculture
8:25 am
Fri February 21, 2014

Idaho Farm Profits Up, Number Of Farms Continues To Fall

In 2012, crops accounted for $3.4 billion dollars of Idaho's ag sector. Livestock and related products totaled $4.3 billion.
Credit Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

The value of Idaho’s agriculture products grew from $5.7 billion to $7.8 billion between 2007 and 2012. That’s according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA.) It released preliminary results from its Census of Agriculture Thursday.  The USDA provides the update every five years and the latest covers 2012.  

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Wages
4:23 pm
Tue February 18, 2014

CBO: Minimum Wage Hike Could Boost Paychecks – And Cut Jobs

Darlene Handy of Baltimore holds up a banner at a rally supporting a pay measure in Maryland. More than 20 states have raised minimum pay rates above the federal level.
Jose Luis Magana AP

Originally published on Tue February 18, 2014 4:42 pm

Whatever you already believed about raising the federal minimum wage, you now have more ammo for your argument, thanks to a report released Tuesday by the Congressional Budget Office, titled "The Effects of a Minimum-Wage Increase on Employment and Family Income."

Yes, you're right: Raising the wage in steps to $10.10 an hour by 2016 would push employers to cut jobs — about 500,000 of them, says the CBO, the nonpartisan research arm of Congress.

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Wages
1:09 pm
Mon February 10, 2014

Idaho Legislative Panel To Hear Minimum Wage Increase Proposal

Michelle Stennett is Idaho's Senate Minority Leader.
Credit Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

A plan to put more money in the pockets of Idaho's lowest-paid workers cleared its first hurdle Monday when the Senate State Affairs Committee voted to send it forward to a full hearing.

The proposal would increase the state's minimum hourly pay from $7.25 the federal requirement— to $8.50 July 1, then raise it again to $9.75 in 2015.

But Republicans who control 81 percent of the Legislature immediately criticized the plan, throwing its future into doubt.

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Winter Olympics
5:30 pm
Thu February 6, 2014

U.S. Olympians Wearing Northwest Wool For Opening Ceremony

Woolgrower Jeanne Carver with the 2014 U.S. Olympic parade sweater
David Nogueras OPB

Originally published on Thu February 6, 2014 6:41 pm

When Team USA marches into the stadium for the Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony Friday, they'll be swathed in the warmth of the Northwest, quite literally.

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Business
5:15 pm
Thu February 6, 2014

Applesauce-Maker GoGo SqueeZ To Open Idaho Facility Creating 230 Jobs

Credit TheImpulsiveBuy / Flickr Creative Commons

Applesauce-maker GoGo squeeZ says it plans to open an $85 million food processing facility in Nampa, Idaho that will employ at least 230 people.

The Idaho Department of Commerce announced the company's Idaho investment in a press release Thursday.

The Idaho Statesman reports the average wage at the new facility will be $16 an hour, more than double Idaho's minimum wage.

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Homelessness
9:58 am
Wed February 5, 2014

Two Renovated Homeless Shelters Opening In Nampa

A small camp has formed outside Corpus Christi House in Boise.
Credit Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

The Boise Rescue Mission plans to open two shelters in Nampa in the next two weeks.

The Idaho Statesman reports that a men's shelter called Lighthouse Rescue Mission and a women's shelter called the Valley Women and Children's Shelter are scheduled to open.

Officials say the women's shelter has 60 beds and will welcome women and children who are homeless as well as those displaced by domestic violence. A grand opening is planned for Thursday.

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Agriculture
5:56 pm
Tue February 4, 2014

Northwest Farmers Take Heart In Prediction Of Rainy Spring

Wheat fields in Lincoln County, Wash.
Jessica Robinson Northwest News Network

Northwest farmers call him “the weather man.” And at a farming conference in Spokane, he offered a reason for them to be optimistic about the upcoming season.

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Economy
2:01 pm
Fri January 31, 2014

Washington Buyers Boost Idaho Liquor Sales By $10 Million

Credit Dave Hosford / Flickr Creative Commons

The head of Idaho's liquor division says state liquor stores had about $10 million in additional sales from Washington customers last year.

The Spokesman-Review reports Jeff Anderson told lawmakers that the bump was not so much because the stores sold more bottles statewide, but because northern Idaho stores saw an increase in sales of higher-priced premium liquor products.

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Boise
9:29 am
Fri January 31, 2014

Plans Announced To Expand Boise Convention Space

The Greater Boise Auditorium District has announced plans to partner with the Gardner Company to create more convention space by expanding the Boise Centre.

Officials including Boise Mayor Dave Bieter, Gardner Company Chief Operating Officer Tommy Ahlquist and the Auditorium District Board made the announcement Thursday.

Plans call for two new buildings with about 43,000 square feet of space for meetings and a kitchen to be built on the parking lot around the U.S. Bank building owned by the Gardner Company.

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Homelessness
11:05 am
Thu January 30, 2014

Counting Homeless People In Idaho Is An Inexact Science

Many homeless people we spoke with did not want their picture taken but David Powell outside Corpus Christi House didn't mind.
Credit Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Volunteers are combing Idaho's streets for the next few days asking homeless people where they spent Wednesday night. This annual count is the only source for much of what we know about Idaho's homeless population. Those numbers, which we won’t know for months, help determine how much federal money will come to homeless programs in Idaho.

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Charity
5:08 pm
Wed January 29, 2014

Christmas Album Brings Hope And 23,000 Meals To The Idaho Foodbank

Credit Emily Carlin / Flickr Creative Commons

Local musicians and their lyrical Christmas creations brought more than good cheer to Idaho last year.
In December, we told you about a special musical collection aimed at raising money for The Idaho Foodbank. Now, we know  just how much the album raised.

The fourth IdaHo Ho Ho Christmas CD raised enough cash to pay for 23,465 meals for those in need.

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Homelessness
6:30 am
Wed January 29, 2014

Why Idaho Homeless Shelters Are Full When There Are Fewer Homeless People

Homeless people often spend days outside Interfaith Sanctuary or inside nearby Corpus Christi House day shelter.
Credit Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Luanne Jensen sits in an alley behind Boise’s Interfaith Sanctuary homeless shelter. She recently had knee surgery, so she's sitting on a bench built into her walker. The surgery, she says, is why she’s staying at Interfaith Sanctuary -- again. Jensen says she stayed here three years ago before landing a job. Now, she can’t work.

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Business
2:27 pm
Fri January 24, 2014

In The Super Bowl Ad Game, One Small Business Will Win Big

Originally published on Fri January 24, 2014 6:55 pm

Super Bowl suspense is building — for the game and the commercials. With an audience of over 100 million people, advertisers covet this space, but at a reported $4 million a spot, only the mightiest corporations can afford Super Bowl exposure. This year, though, there's an exception. One lucky little business will get one of those primo slots — free.

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Business
9:56 am
Wed January 15, 2014

Albertsons To Close 7 Northwestern Grocery Stores

Credit RoadsidePictures / Flickr Creative Commons

The grocery chain Albertsons plans to close several stores in the Northwest.

The Albany Democrat-Herald in Oregon reports that seven of 111 shops will be shuttered. The affected stores are in Washington and Oregon.

Albertsons spokesman Dennis McCoy says the Boise-based company is continuously evaluating its stores, pulling the plug on locations that are less profitable.

McCoy says some of the employees who worked at the affected stores may be able to transfer to a different location.

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Economy
6:00 am
Tue January 14, 2014

New Idaho Labor Chief Says State Needs To Shift Focus To Better Paying Jobs

Idaho Labor Department Director Ken Edmunds works in his Boise office. Edmunds took over the agency's top position in November.
Credit Scott Graf / Boise State Public Radio

The new head of Idaho's Labor Department says the state needs to shift its focus to better paying jobs that will help grow the state's economy. 

Ken Edmunds is now in his second month as the head of Idaho’s Labor Department. The Twin Falls businessman replaced longtime labor director Roger Madsen in late November.   

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Economy
10:45 am
Fri January 10, 2014

Palouse Knowledge Corridor Eyes Entrepreneurs

The Palouse Knowledge Corridor has announced plans intended to attract startup businesses to the region that includes north-central Idaho and eastern Washington state.

The group includes representatives from the University of Idaho, Washington State University, and area cities.

The Lewiston Tribune reports the group on Thursday presented an idea for a five-day conference called "Be the Entrepreneur Bootcamp" it hopes to hold June 21 to June 25.

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