Secretary of State Ben Ysursa says he’s fine with the spending reductions to his office in the next budget, but this fall’s election is adding to his request for next year. He’s hoping to pass a law that could save $130,000 in mailing voter information packets.
The secretary of state is requesting $370,000 for the 2010 election, which is 16 percent of its total budget. That money goes largely to printing and mailing voter information packets about initiatives, referendums, and constitutional amendments that will be up for a vote. So far, only one constitutional amendment, which could allow the University of Idaho’s Board of Regents to set tuition and fee increases, is on the ballot. The secretary of state also runs the sunshine reporting program that tracks campaign fundraising. Idaho counties, not the secretary of state, run the polls on Election Day.
Ysursa said he doesn’t think any initiatives will make it onto the ballot this year. Under current law, he’s still required to print and mail a voter pamphlet on initiatives. Ysursa said he’s working on a change with lawmakers so he wouldn’t need to produce that pamphlet if there are no initiatives. That move would save $130,000. Ysursa said his total budget amounts to a rounding error in the overall state budget, but said every little bit helps. “We can’t spend too much on voter education, yet maybe this is one we ought to save this fiscal year,” he said.
Ysursa said the state could also save money during election years by changing the constitutional requirement that all proposed constitutional amendments be printed in every newspaper across the state. Ysursa said advertising each amendment costs the state $40,000-$55,000, depending on its size. Amendments are listed on the secretary of state’s website, and would go out to voters in pamphlets. Ysursa said getting rid of the newspaper ad requirement should be looked at, though that change would require a constitutional amendment.
The secretary of state’s office faces a 35 percent, $1.29 million reduction in the next state budget, according to the Legislature’s budget office. The secretary of state also covers state business and commercial licensing and the Commission on Uniform Laws. Ysursa said he’s weathered the cuts so far. “This economy will recover and we want to be well-equipped to do what we have to do,” he said.
STAY CONNECTED with the latest news, research and opinions from the Gem State.