The Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee (JFAC) got a head start on their Friday meeting, coming together around a table at 7 a.m. to iron out the fixes to balance the current state budget.
Lower tax revenues have led lawmakers to add in more reductions to most state agencies and transfer some reserve funds and federal stimulus dollars to hold off cuts to public schools. All agencies will now have cuts of at least 7 percent in the budget year that ends June 30. Those reductions will be carried into the next state budget that starts in July. “Everything has been cut permanently,” Cathy Holland-Smith, the Legislature’s chief budget analyst, told members of JFAC.
Not all state agencies will be affected by the reductions. Public schools will be held harmless from cuts in the current budget, but will likely see less spending for the next school year. Schools will receive $33 million in federal stimulus dollars for the current budget that were part of the next budget. “This gives me a lot of discomfort for what’s going to be coming down the pipe,” said Rep. Wendy Jaquet, D-Ketchum. “It does give me some heartburn about what’s going to happen in the 2011 budget.” State prisons and health care services for the medically indigent are also not seeing the full reductions that other agencies are facing.
JFAC will start setting the next state budget on Monday.
STAY CONNECTED with the latest news, research and opinions from the Gem State.