BREAKING: House Passes First Maintenance Budget

After nearly an hour of debate, the Idaho House of Representatives narrowly approved the first of the new maintenance budget bills. House Bill 457, which funds the judiciary, was passed out of JFAC three weeks ago and finally reached the 3rd reading calendar this morning. (Catch up with my live tweets here.)

Rep. Wendy Horman, co-chair of the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee (JFAC), opened with a strong presentation in favor of not only H457, but of the new process as a whole. Reps. Josh Tanner and Heather Scott applauded the bill, saying it was a step forward for transparency and made it easier for the Legislature to scrutinize these budgets.

Several of the participants in last week’s JFAC coup debated against H457, despite the fact that every Republican voted in favor of this budget three weeks ago. Reps. Britt Raybould, James Petzke, and Rod Furniss each argued against not only this particular bill but against the new process as a whole. They suggested that by wrapping the maintenance budgets together, JFAC was following the lead of the massive omnibus bills in the federal Congress.

Furniss touted his advanced degrees in finance and said it wasn’t the job of the Legislature as a whole to scrutinize these budgets, but JFAC’s. He gave the game away when he said he worried that the House would adjourn before passing the line item increases requested by each agency.

In the end it was close, but the new process held. This was the first of ten maintenance budgets passed out of JFAC, with five in the House and five in the Senate.

The House immediately went at ease for a caucus meeting after the vote, so I’ll keep you updated.

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