Ahlquist’s $100 million plan: a spending cut, or a shift?

Last summer, gubernatorial candidate Tommy Ahlquist raised a stir with his promised to cut $100 million from the state budget in his first 100 days in office.

But the cut might not be a cut after all.

Tommy Ahlquist

In a radio interview with KLIX this week, the Boise physician and developer said he might reallocate the $100 million into other areas of the state budget. (For details, here’s a story from Kimberlee Kruesi of the Associated Press.)

Either way, here are two ways to put the $100 million figure into perspective.

This week, retiring Gov. Butch Otter released his budget proposal for 2018-19, a $3.68 billion spending plan. In that context, $100 million translates into less than three cents on the dollar.

About 60 percent of the state’s budget goes into education, between K-12 and Idaho’s two- and four-year colleges. When Ahlquist pledged to make a $100 million cut last summer, he also pledged to do it in a manner that holds education harmless — a claim that left the co-chairs of the Legislature’s budget-writing Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee skeptical.

Ahlquist is one of three prominent Republicans running to succeed Otter. Ahlquist, U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador and Lt. Gov. Brad Little will square off in the May 15 GOP primary.

More reading: Go to our elections page for candidate interviews and more coverage of the 2018 campaigns.

Kevin Richert

About Kevin Richert

Senior reporter and blogger Kevin Richert specializes in education politics and education policy. He has more than 30 years of experience in Idaho journalism. He is a frequent guest on KIVI 6 On Your Side; "Idaho Reports" on Idaho Public Television; and "Idaho Matters" on Boise State Public Radio. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinRichert. He can be reached at [email protected]

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