The Idaho Department of Labor will rely less on state money in the next year as it adds the Idaho Human Rights Commission (IHRC) to its budget. The labor department will pay for $144,000 of the IHRC’s spending out of two dedicated funds instead of tax dollars in the next fiscal year, which begins in July. The IHRC’s annual budget of $821,400 would be a 9 percent reduction, based on the budget set by the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee (JFAC).
The IHRC handles discrimination complaints in employment, housing, and education. The labor department manages unemployment claims and other workforce issues. Gov. Butch Otter recommended phasing out state funding for the IHRC. Sen. Nicole LeFavour, D-Boise, worked on the labor and IHRC budgets, and is glad that the Department of Labor agreed to a merger. “It’s pretty impressive that they did this, because it’s something they didn’t have to do,” she said. “Hopefully this will make the Human Rights Commission all the more able to accomplish its mission ... These cuts can be difficult, but I think the transfer can ultimately be beneficial for both (agencies).”
The labor department will also spend $200,000 in the current budget from a special penalty and interest fund rather than general fund tax dollars. “I think it’s impressive for the department to take initiative like this and help us out with budgets,” LeFavour said.
Rep. Darrell Bolz, R-Caldwell, said the labor department is planning to spend a similar amount from dedicated funds next year rather than state tax dollars, though it isn’t part of the budget set by JFAC. “This is not the first time that director (Roger) Madsen has stepped up to the plate and worked something out,” Bolz said. “It’s a privilege to work with a director like that.” The labor department’s budget for the next fiscal year, including the IHRC, would be $4 million overall, with $702,200 coming from state general funds.