[Vision2020] Otter cutting help for families ... AMID BUDGET SURPLUS
msolomon at moscow.com
Sat May 19 11:33:57 PDT 2007
One very real difference is Idaho has the money.
The Idaho budget, as of the end of April, is
estimated to be running at a $100 million surplus
for FY 2007 based on tax revenues to date. The
sad thing is the last three governors have chosen
to cut taxes and further reduce programs in the
face of budget surpluses and not fund government
delivery of services or state employee wages and
benefits. They seem to subscribe to Grover
Norquist's admonition that government should be
downsized so it can be drowned in a bathtub.
>Oh Dear - I can't let this one get away. Some my find this to be
>juveline and sarcastic, but other may find it on point. Time will
>tell. . . .
>". . .the governor is eliminating $1.5 million in early-childhood and
>family programs next month for fear of declining federal funds."
>I believe this is offered up as a "bad thing" however Mr Hansen
>states, defending MSD's spending freeze:
>"The Moscow School District has frozen its budget (and put several
>teachers on notice, I might add) as a precautionary measure . . .
>(because) It is what big boys and girls do. . . when the possibility
>exists that the money they were promised . . .might not be realized."
>This spending freeze is however, a "good thing."
>On 5/19/07, Debbie Gray <graylex at yahoo.com> wrote:
>>Otter cutting help for families
>>Plan comes amid budget surplus
>>Betsy Z. Russell
>>Staff writer, Spokesman Review
>>May 18, 2007
>>BOISE - Idaho has a $75 million budget surplus,
>>legislative leaders learned Thursday, but the governor
>>is eliminating $1.5 million in early-childhood and
>>family programs next month for fear of declining
>>"It's a problem with the funding stream," said Jon
>>Hanian, Gov. Butch Otter's press secretary.
>>Among the cuts: $800,000 in federal welfare funds that
>>Idaho now directs to the Parents as Teachers program,
>>a program that was highlighted in the "What Works"
>>feature as part of last month's Spokesman-Review
>>series on child abuse, "Our kids: Our business."
>>Contract termination notices have gone out to all
>>providers receiving those funds, saying their
>>contracts with the state will end June 15.
>>It's not yet clear how far-reaching the impact will
>>be; some of those programs also have other funding
>>sources, but smaller ones may not. The program
>>provides education and resources to parents of young
>>children from before birth to kindergarten.
>>"There has been no discussion about the merits of the
>>program," said House Minority Leader Wendy Jaquet,
>>D-Ketchum. "You just don't, you don't do it this way."
>>The Legislative Council, which includes legislative
>>leaders from both houses and both parties along with
>>other senators and representatives, voted Thursday to
>>ask the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee to
>>investigate what's in the state budget for Parents as
>>Teachers and what the governor is planning. The joint
>>budget committee has its summer meeting June 4-6.
>>Otter also is eliminating the Executive Office for
>>Families and Children and most of the programs it
>>oversees on June 15, and laying off the state
>>employees in that office. In addition to Parents as
>>Teachers, the office includes the Council on
>>Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention, the Governor's
>>Coordinating Council for Families and Children, the
>>Suicide Prevention Council, and more; some of those
>>functions will be moved into the Health and Welfare
>>Department. He's also considering eliminating $1.5
>>million in federal funds that Idaho directs each year
>>to the Head Start preschool program, which lawmakers
>>allocated to Head Start in 1999 to expand it to 300
>>more low-income children.
>>Lawmakers said they had no idea the governor was
>>making the cuts until news reports surfaced this week.
>>"What I know is what I read in the newspaper, and
>>that's all," said Senate President Pro-Tem Bob Geddes,
>>Senate Minority Leader Clint Stennett, D-Ketchum,
>>asked, "The Legislature passed the appropriation for
>>the Parents as Teachers - how can that be summarily
>>dismissed and canceled?"
>>Legislative budget director Cathy Holland-Smith
>>responded that the item is within the child welfare
>>appropriation of the state Health and Welfare budget
>>but didn't have a specific line item.
>>The program was started by former Gov. Dirk Kempthorne
>>through an executive order after lawmakers rejected
>>it, but they've made no move to remove it from the
>>budgets they approved each year since then.
>>Jaquet said, "My parent educator told me that (former
>>Gov.) Jim Risch signed a yearlong contract with the
>>federal government. They knew that they were set for
>>this year. It was embedded in the budget."
>>Rep. Eric Anderson, R-Priest Lake, who serves on the
>>council, said, "It just raises a lot of questions, and
>>I'm certain there are good reasons, because I don't
>>think the intention of the executive branch would be
>>to do any harm."
>>Anderson added, "JFAC will get to the bottom of it."
>>Sen. Dean Cameron, R-Rupert, JFAC co-chairman, who
>>attended the meeting, said, "I'm like Sen. Geddes -
>>the only thing I've basically read is what's been in
>>the paper." Cameron said he was "very comfortable"
>>with the council's request. "I think we ought to have
>>the opportunity to review it," he said.
>>He added, "There have been some legitimate questions
>>over time about the cost-effectiveness of the
>>programs. The executive branch does have the
>>authority to run their agencies and make sure that the
>>money is handled appropriately when we're not here in
>>Hanian said the governor's office has merely been
>>reacting to a legislative audit that suggested there
>>could be problems directing federal welfare funds to
>>the Generation of the Child programs and Head Start.
>>Though the federal government hasn't objected to that
>>funding in past years, last year it objected to using
>>Temporary Assistance to Needy Families money for an
>>immunization registry and for poison control, and the
>>state audit suggested these programs could be rejected
>>Idaho's legislative auditor, Don Berg, was questioned
>>by the Legislative Council on Thursday, and he said he
>>hasn't even been able to publicly release the audit
>>yet because he's waiting for the JFAC co-chairs to
>>sign off on it.
>>"It's all alarming news to me," Berg told the council.
>>The audit questioned the use of the federal welfare
>>funds, and the Health and Welfare Department responded
>>that they are allowable costs under the program. "And
>>now it's a surprise to have the governor pulling these
>>things," he said.
>>Hanian said, "We're trying to find and identify what
>>our options may be, in terms of funding for some of
>>these programs. We don't have a solution yet, but what
>>we have to do is get these programs off this funding
>>Hanian said that doesn't necessarily mean that all the
>>programs will be eliminated - some other funding could
>>"We've gotten calls here from people who think we're
>>killing Head Start.
>>"That's just flat-out wrong," he said.
>>But the governor did decide to move ahead with the
>>"The approach was, we're going to do that first and
>>then, over the course of the next couple weeks, figure
>>out what our alternatives are in terms of funding
>>them," Hanian said.
>>The council's vote followed news that Idaho has an
>>unexpected $75 million budget surplus for this year,
>>thanks to a huge overrun in individual income tax
>>revenues in April.
>>If that growth proves permanent, the state could have
>>a $100 million surplus in the budget lawmakers already
>>have set for the next fiscal year, which starts July
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