State Agency Loses Track of Nearly $5 million

Edit: JFAC Co-chair Wendy Horman announced this afternoon that new information has come to light regarding the numbers in the IDVR. She says that Keith Bybee and Brooke Dupree are working on reconciling them right now, and the supplemental budget bill has been returned to JFAC for the time being.

The Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee (JFAC) held a surprise meeting this morning to discuss an urgent request from the Idaho Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (IDVR) for a $2.7 million supplemental budget increase. Brooke Dupree, budget and policy analyst in the Legislative Services Office (LSO), explained that the Division somehow ended up short $4.7 million on their budget for fiscal year 2024 and was asking for $2.7 million to cover outstanding invoices and other obligations.

Members of JFAC were presented with a packet listing outstanding invoices.

The Division of Vocational Rehabilitation exists to assist people with various disabilities in job training and placement. It appears that their current mandate stems from the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act signed by President Obama in 2014. During the JFAC hearing, Co-chair C. Scott Grow said he and Co-chair Wendy Horman were torn between not wanting to reward an agency that had made a big mistake, but also wanting to make sure people dependent upon that agency aren’t punished.

The fiscal year 2025 appropriation for IDVR was $26.5 million, meaning that the $4.7 million shortfall was nearly 20% of their budget for the next year. According to Jane Donnellan, director of IDVR, a new fiscal officer started in March, but he somehow missed the growing discrepancy in their budget. Despite admitting the fiscal officer answers to her, Donnellan stopped short of accepting full responsibility.

Sen. Kevin Cook pointed out the difference between the $4.7 million shortfall and the $2.7 million supplemental request. He asked if IDVR would be returning in the future for another supplemental to make up the difference. Director Donnellan said no, rather they would try to live within their means for the remainder of the fiscal year.

After conferring, members of JFAC agreed to appropriate an additional $2.7 million for IDVR, of which $2.3 million would be federal funds. They stipulated, however, that the appropriations for new positions and equipment replacement already passed by the Legislature would not be spent, but would be put toward filling the shortfall.

Sen. Scott Herndon and Reps. Tina Lambert and Ed Humphreys (substituting for Rep. Josh Tanner) voted against the motion, which passed 17-3. LSO will quickly print the new bill so the House and Senate can vote on it before recessing this afternoon.

JFAC also approved a motion to instruct LSO to conduct an audit of IDVR. Alex Adams, administrator of the Department of Financial Management, assured the committee that there would be an independent audit as well. It remains to be seen exactly how IDVR will be held responsible for this mistake.

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