House Rep. Luke Malek, R-Coeur d’Alene, said his business dealings, not a much-publicized campaign announcement, caused him to miss the budget committee’s education votes Monday morning.
Malek, in a Tuesday email to IdahoReporter.com, explained his absence from the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee.
“Being here yesterday wasn't an option for me, announcement or not,” Malek wrote. “I had business in [Coeur d’Alene].”
Malek, a lawyer, explained that he “fit in” his re-election campaign announcement at North Idaho College Monday on his trip to the airport for a return flight to Boise.
“I balance a lot owning a business and having my clients in [Coeur d’Alene], means sometimes I can't be [in Boise],” Malek wrote.
JFAC set the public schools budgets, seven in all, sans Malek, the only member absent during the early morning work group meetings, plus the formal panel hearing. Malek, who announced his intent to seek a third term in the Idaho House, intimated his presence might not have mattered much.
“Also, I knew the budgets on education were going to be very well supported because I talked to my colleagues about it extensively last week,” Malek said. “In fact, they were unanimous.”
The budget votes were close to unanimous, but not entirely. Democrats pushed to add $5 million in discretionary funds for districts to the 2017 education budget, but that failed on a party-line vote.
However, JFAC did approve adding more than $100 million to 2017 school spending. The seven education budgets now head to the Idaho House and Senate for further deliberations.
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