Federal Budget

Matthew Mead / AP Images

At this time of year, the culinary arts students at the Centennial Job Corps Center in Nampa usually turn their attention to turkey. Hundreds of the birds are cooked in the center’s production kitchen – along with stuffing and potatoes – and are stored until the Boise Rescue Mission’s annual banquet. The meal serves up to 4,000 people.

U.S. Capitol, Washington, DC
VPickering / Flickr Creative Commons

The response to the President’s budget among Idaho’s political delegation in Washington, D.C. is tepid. The Trump Administration proposes cutting spending by $3.6 trillion over the next decade.

In a statement, GOP Senator Jim Risch reminded people that Congress, not the President, actually appropriates funds. Risch characterized the proposed budget as a blueprint of the Trump Administration’s priorities.

Idaho Ed News

For 140 students in Cassia County, the school day doesn’t end with the afternoon bell. And the school year continues past spring.

Adam Theo / Flickr Creative Commons

Idaho lawmakers are considering joining fellow Republican-dominated states calling for a constitutional amendment to limit federal government power.

sage grouse, in flight, birds
Bryant Olsen / Flickr Creative Commons

Congress has returned to work after the Thanksgiving recess. One of the big items on the docket during the lame duck session is the passage of a $602-billion defense bill. But an amendment by Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah) has helped to stall its passage, tying the debate over the greater sage grouse to Pentagon funding.

Karl Stanton / Flickr Creative Commons

The $1.1 trillion federal budget bill was signed into law last Friday, avoiding a government shutdown. Three of Idaho’s four congressmen voted against the omnibus bill, which is being characterized as a compromise budget.

United States Forest Service, Mike McMillan / Flickr Creative Commons

A recent report published by the U.S. Forest Service shows that in 1995, 17 percent of the agency's budget went to fighting wildfires. By 2014, those efforts took up 51 percent of the agency's funding.

U.S. Forest Service

 A slow wildfire season in the U.S. means the Forest Service won’t have to dip into other parts of its budget to cover firefighting expenses. The federal government’s fiscal year ends Tuesday. It’s the first time in three years the agency’s firefighting allotment will cover actual costs.

The Forest Service exceeded its firefighting budget by $505 million last summer, and $440 million the year before.

Wildfire, fire fighter
U.S. Forest Service

The Obama administration is detailing the toll that the escalating cost of fighting forest fires has had on other projects, as it pushes Congress to overhaul how it pays for the most severe fires.

In a new report issued Wednesday, the Agriculture Department said that staffing for fighting fires has more than doubled since 1998.

Meanwhile, the number of workers who manage National Forest System lands has dropped by about a third.

Boise National Forest

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says the U.S. Forest Service will soon have to tap into programs designed to prevent wildfires so that it can meet the expenses of fighting blazes this summer.

Vilsack says about $400 million to $500 million in forestry projects will have to be put on hold in what has become a routine exercise.

He predicted that the money set aside strictly for firefighting will run out by the end of August.

Some 30 large fires are working their way through federal and state forests in California, Oregon, Washington and Idaho.

Cliff1066 / Flickr Creative Commons

Idaho's Republican U.S. senators both voted against a bipartisan budget deal that now goes to President Obama for his signature.

Sens. Mike Crapo and James Risch on Tuesday opposed the plan that passed 67-33.

Like Crapo and Risch, all those against the measure were from the Senate's minority GOP side.

The deal marked a modest congressional accomplishment at the end of a year punctuated by a partial government shutdown, a near-default by the U.S. Treasury and congressional gridlock on issues ranging from immigration to gun control.

Idaho's Republican congressmen again parted ways on a budget vote.

Eight-term U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson on Thursday aligned with House Speaker John Boehner and other backers of the measure that passed 332-94, including majorities of Republicans and Democrats.

That didn't stop second-term Rep. Raul Labrador from branding the bi-partisan package "a bad deal, plain and simple."

For Simpson, it protects funding for the Idaho National Laboratory, shores up rural schools' budgets — and reduces the federal deficit by $23 billion, all without raising taxes.