Idaho lawmakers take on deep cuts in medical, education

Absent tax increases, balancing Idaho’s budget next year means cutting about $340 million, or 14 percent of the state’s budget.

When Gov. Butch Otter submits a balanced budget for fiscal 2012 on Jan. 10, he’ll do it without $1.12 billion drawn from the federal stimulus and the state’s rainy-day accounts that kept spending in the black the past three years. Following tradition, Otter’s staying quiet, saving the drama for the first day of the Legislature.

But the leaders of the 20-member Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee are readying the field for battle. They used their fall meeting Monday and Tuesday to focus on the scale of the shortfall. Their aim: to inform the public and the 85 legislators less familiar with budgeting.

“The hole is too big for JFAC to solve alone,” said Senate Finance Committee Chairman Dean Cameron, R-Rupert. “We’re going to need help from the germane committees,” including those overseeing Medicaid and education.

Read the complete story at