Jerome Republican Rep. Maxine Bell ended the first week of Idaho Legislature’s Joint Finance-Appropriations (JFAC) by telling lawmakers, “Thank you so much for the first week of the rest of your life.” Bell is one of the leaders of the committee that oversees the legislative budget-making process.
JFAC closed out the week by approving additional spending by state agencies during the next six months. The money for spending comes from federal stimulus funding or dedicated, fee-based funding.
The biggest piece of spending the committee approved was $25 million in stimulus money for conservation projects through the Idaho Office of Energy Resources (OER). That money would go to retrofitting projects in public schools and government buildings, as well as $1.5 million for rebates for energy efficient appliances. OER administrator Paul Kjellander said that rebate program will be up and running within three months. Some $5 million will also go to a Micron LED demonstration project. A Micron representative said half that money has already been spent. With this additional money, Idaho has now received $40.3 million in stimulus money for energy conservation programs.
In addition, a federal stimulus grant of $786,000 will go to the Idaho Department of Labor for tutoring programs in schools and prisons.
JFAC also approved smaller outlays of dedicated state funds for two regulatory boards. The state dentistry board received $50,000 to pay for a heavy load of complaint hearings. Department of Financial Management administrator Wayne Hammon said the dentistry board has more complaints this year than normal, including two very large complaints.
The Board of Engineers and Land Surveyors (ELS) also got approval for $50,000 to cover for board hearings, but that funding authority will continue in future budget years. “We’re getting tired of seeing you every year,” ELS chief Dave Curtis told the panel of lawmakers.
All of JFAC’s approvals for agency spending still need to be voted on by the House and Senate, and signed into law by Gov. Butch Otter.
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