All three long-stalled child care aid bills have passed the Senate without debate and headed to the governor’s desk this evening. HB 39, authorizing $70 million in federal ARPA funds to stabilize Idaho’s struggling child care industry by continuing existing aid programs beyond Dec. 31 passed, 33-3, with just Sens. Bayer, Vick and Zito dissenting. HB 400, authorizing another $36 million in ARPA funds for block grants to support programs for kids age 5-13 such as the Boys & Girls Club and 4-H passed, 33-2, with just Bayer and Zito dissenting. HB 369, the long-stalled budget for the Welfare Division of the state Department of Health & Welfare and which contains $34 million in funding for the existing child care grant and aid programs through Dec. 31 passed, 30-5. Those voting against it were Sens. Bayer, Den Hartog, Ricks, Vick and Zito.
The Senate had already passed that budget on March 10 on a 24-9 vote, but the House killed the first version amid questions about the $34 million, which is from the COVID relief act passed by Congress and signed into law by then-President Trump in December. Sen. Jeff Agenbroad, R-Nampa, the Senate vice-chair of JFAC, told the Senate that the only differences between this budget bill and the earlier one, SB 1163, were that it’s $100 less and it reduces full-time positions in the Division of Welfare by five.