Updated: Feb 17
As week 6 of the session ends and week 7 begins, I want to thank the good people of District 25 for allowing me to represent you in the Idaho House of Representatives.
This week’s budget hearings included the Department of Health & Welfare, the Military Division, the Idaho State Police, POST Academy, the Racing Commission and the Brand Inspector. We also heard from the House and Senate Committee Chairs on the priorities of their committees that included the Education, Health & Welfare, Resources & Conservation and Judiciary & Rules Committees.
The Joint Finance & Appropriations Committee also voted on and set the General Fund Revenue for Budget-Setting at $4,125,574,100 or a 4.2% increase. We then voted on all the supplemental appropriations to get our starting number for budget setting.
Through January, year-over-year revenue collections are up $145.6 million or 7.2%. Individual income tax collections are up $76.0 million compared to last year, while sales tax collections and corporate income tax collections are up $61.3 million and $5.4 million. More information at https://legislature.idaho.gov/lso/bpa/highlights/
From the Division of Health & Welfare budget presentations, I learned that the Division provides support services for eligible families and individuals. Programs administered by the division include: Child Support; Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP or Food Stamps); Child Care; Temporary Assistance for Families in Idaho (TAFI also known as TANF); and Aid to the Aged, Blind, and Disabled (AABD). The division also administers several programs through contracts with local partner organizations that provide food, energy, telephone and weatherization assistance.
From the Department of Parks and Recreation presentation, I learned that the Parks Department was created in 1965. Before the creation of the department there existed, areas designated scenic and recreational, usually parks and campgrounds. Between 1907 and 1947, these areas were administered by the State Land Board. In 1947, state parks were transferred to the Highway Department, and responsibility grew with the addition of several roadside rest areas. In 1949, control of the parks system was transferred back to the State Land Board, and in 1953 the Division of Parks was created within the Department of Lands, administered by a state park director. The 1965 legislation created a separate Department of Parks and Recreation, governed by a six-member parks board appointed by the Governor.
The Idaho Association of Weed Control Superintendents gave a report on Cooperative Weed Management Areas. www.idahoweedawareness.org is a great place to look for more information. Cooperative weed management areas have been established throughout Idaho. Since weeds have no respect for property lines or boundaries, it is important to create these Management Areas as a way of pooling resources (people, money, and energy) to combat weeds throughout Idaho. Over 30 CWMA’s currently cover 90% of Idaho lands.
Visiting with the Alzheimer’s Association I learned that 26,000 Idahoans are living with Alzheimer’s and by 2025 the number is expected to increase by 26.9%. I would like to thank the 85,000 family caregivers that in 2018 provided 97 million hours of unpaid care valued at $1.2 billion.
A report from the Idaho National Laboratory (INL) stated that they have $2.64 billion total impact to the State’s economy. INL is the 6th largest private employer and the 9th largest employer with 4,724 employees. In southcentral Idaho alone, the INL does $5.3M small business spending, has 7 business partners, has 2 employees, conducts 3 STEM outreach events, gives $2K in STEM Grants and $2.7K in community grants.
There have been several property tax bills introduced this week in the Revenue & Taxation Committee. Property taxes are a subject that we all have great interest in. HB 408 and HB 409 might be of interest to you. www.idaholegislature.gov is where you can read all the bills and let me know your thoughts.