The first day of setting the next Idaho state budgets saw some additional reductions, but more will be coming as lawmakers tackle larger agencies. These budgets would start in July. All the department budgets set on Monday receive money from outside the general fund, so aren’t directly affected by the decision to lower state revenue projections by $59 million to $2.29 billion from Gov. Butch Otter’s recommended $2.43 billion. All told, lawmakers on the Joint-Finance Appropriations Committee trimmed just $151,900 from the governor’s recommendations for departments for the next year, though some agencies will see large reductions or increases from their budget for the current year.
The biggest reduction is in the Office of Energy Resources (OER), which is losing $40 million in federal stimulus dollars and $16 million overall. Without stimulus money, the OER’s budget is less than $3 million. It’s likely that the OER will have some stimulus money left when the current fiscal year ends in June.
No other state department with its budget set Monday saw a reduction of federal and dedicated funding of more than $1 million, though the largest agency on the docket was the Industrial Commission, with a $17 million yearly budget. Lawmakers on JFAC wrote in the Industrial Commission’s budget that they’d like the agency to study sharing office space with the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation and the Commission for the Blind. Other state agencies that saw spending reductions were the Department of Commerce, Department of Finance, and Endowment Fund Investment Board (EFIB). The budget for the EFIB included intent language on the transfer of an additional $22 million to public schools from the Public School Earnings Reserve Fund, which the EFIB controls.
Two departments saw funding increases. The Lava Hot Springs Foundation received an extra $500,000 to pay down a $1.1 million loan. The Public Utilities Commission will receive a $109,200 budget increase.
JFAC will start setting budgets on Tuesday for agencies that receive money from the state’s general fund, including the Judicial Branch and Department of Judicial Corrections. All the department budgets set by JFAC must be approved by both chambers of the Legislature
STAY CONNECTED with the latest news, research and opinions from the Gem State.