Budget-writers return to town — to a full agenda

This week, the Legislature’s budget-writing committee is expected to discuss everything from Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin’s request for money for legal fees to K-12 and higher education budgets.

The Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee holds fall meetings every year, and education plays heavily in the three days of meetings, which start Tuesday.

Here’s a day-by-day look at the agenda:

Tuesday, 9 a.m.

Soon after they convene, budget-writers will get an update on the state’s general fund — and the state’s $1.4 billion budget surplus. After that, the committee will get a briefing on the American Rescue Plan, the most recent federal coronavirus stimulus law.

At 1:15 p.m., JFAC will discuss supplemental budget requests, and that’s when McGeachin’s request could come up. McGeachin has said she needs an additional $50,000 to cover legal fees, stemming from her attempt to withhold public comments from media organizations, including Idaho Education News. McGeachin has not produced invoices outlining these costs, Idaho Capital Sun reported Friday.

The K-12 and higher education budget discussion is slated for 1:45 p.m.

Wednesday, 8 a.m.

The morning schedule includes a 10:10 a.m. discussion on Gov. Brad Little’s COVID-19 initiatives — including his plans to use federal dollars for school COVID-19 testing and paying substitute teachers.

After that, the committee will head to Nampa and the College of Western Idaho, for a luncheon and presentation on community college cybersecurity programs.

Thursday, 8 a.m.

After a discussion of state employee raises, budget-writers are scheduled to discuss K-12 student transportation. That session is scheduled for 9:45 a.m.

Except for the presentation at CWI, all meetings will take place at the Statehouse’s Lincoln Auditorium.

Check back at Idaho Education News for full coverage this week.

Kevin Richert

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 "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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