Agenbroad far

Sen. Jeff Agenbroad, R-Nampa, presents HB 395, the bill authorizing federal ARPA funds for child care industry stabilization in Idaho to the Senate on Wednesday evening, May 5, 2021; the bill passed, 32-3, and headed to the governor's desk.

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.

Betsy Z. Russell is the Boise bureau chief and state capitol reporter for the Idaho Press and Adams Publishing Group. Follow her on Twitter at @BetsyZRussell.

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