JFAC

Idaho Ed News

The co-chair of Idaho's powerful budget-setting committee says she won't run for re-election in 2018.

State Sen. Shawn Keough, a Republican from Sandpoint, tells the Bonner County Daily Bee that she's planning on retiring after serving in the Idaho Legislature for more than 20 years. She is the longest serving female senator in the history of the state.

Barry Crabtree / Flickr Creative Commons

State budget writers have approved allocating $526,900 to help research and dispose contaminated fields in eastern Idaho.

The request, made up of both state and federal funds, is part of an ongoing effort to treat the negative impacts of a pesticide known as methyl bromide, applied on potatoes in Bingham and Bonneville counties in 2006

Ada County Statehouse Capitol Building Joint Finance Appropriations Committee
Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

Friday we wrap up week six of the Idaho Legislature. Lawmakers are getting down to the business of passing bills in committees and sending them to the House and Senate floor.

The Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee, or JFAC considered the final budget requests from the state agencies this week. That means this panel of 20 is switching gears and will start to draft bills, in fact, the committee is expected to write close to 100 budget bills.

capitol, JFAC
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

On Monday, the Idaho Legislature fielded a flurry of bills from committees. That’s by design.

The 36th calendar day of each legislative session is the last day that personal bills can be introduced in most committees. That was Monday, which resulted in a glut of bills popping up in committees.

Boise State University Political Science professor Gary Moncrief says after the deadline, it gets harder to get bills into the Legislature.

Idaho Ed News

If the 2017 Legislature wants to add another $100 million or so to the K-12 budget, it looks like the money will be there.

On Tuesday morning, legislative budget-writers started looking over some of the numbers that will define the session that will begin in early January. And while their counterparts in other states are facing the prospect of spending cuts, Idaho lawmakers could have ample tax revenues on hand.

internet, computer, broadband,
Sean MacEntee / Flickr Creative Commons

State budget writers have signed off on a surprise $8 million request from top legislative leaders to pay for a possible settlement in Idaho's losing legal battle over an illegal statewide contract for broadband in public schools.

The Joint Finance Appropriations Committee voted 19-1 on Tuesday to approve the request of House Speaker Scott Bedke and Senate President Pro Tem Brent Hill.

Earlier this month, the Idaho Supreme Court upheld a lower court's ruling voiding the $60 million statewide contract in a drawn-out legal process.

Ada County Statehouse Capitol Building Minority Leader Rusche
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.

Ada County Statehouse Capitol Building Joint Finance Appropriations Committee
Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

State budget writers have found a way to finance two crisis centers in southern Idaho to serve as a safety net to treat at-risk mentally ill people whose symptoms often land them in hospitals or jail.

The Joint Finance Appropriations Committee voted 16-2 on Wednesday to divert nearly $1.5 million to fund two crisis centers that will likely be located in Boise and Twin Falls.

State of Idaho

Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter has appointed state Sen. Dean Cameron of Rupert to oversee the Idaho Department of Insurance.

Otter announced Friday that the 13-term Republican lawmaker will be the new director effective June 15.

Cameron is co-chair of the Joint Finance Appropriations Committee, one of the most powerful legislative committees in the Idaho Statehouse. He also owns an insurance and securities investment company in Rupert.

The insurance position has been open since former Director Bill Deal left at the end of 2014.

Kevin Richert / Idaho Education News

Legislative budget-writers moved several million dollars around Tuesday morning in a last-minute bid to save broadband in Idaho high schools.

But it’s going to be up to school administrators to find someone to provide broadband locally. There’s no guarantee service will continue past this weekend — when the statewide Idaho Education Network could go dark.

capitol, JFAC
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

The Idaho Legislature's Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee has approved spending $1 million to defend the state's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.

The Moscow-Pullman Daily News reports in a story on Thursday that the committee endorsed a request by Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter to transfer the money from the general fund to the Constitutional Defense Fund in anticipation of a legal fight.

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

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.

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Budget writers in Idaho’s legislature voted to increase state education spending 2.2 percent next year. That would put general fund education dollars at $1.308 billion.