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JFAC set the budget for seven state agencies this morning, in a series of relatively quick votes with little debate. For the state Department of Finance, which receives no state general funds, the budget for next year approved on a unanimous 20-0 vote calls for a 1.9% increase, matching Gov. Brad Little’s recommendation. For the state Department of Insurance, which also receives no state general funds, the vote also was unanimous, and the 1.5% increase matches the governor’s recommendation. The Workforce Development Council budget was approved 18-2, with Reps. Nate and Giddings dissenting; it also includes no state general funds and matches the governor’s recommendation, which shows a drop of 27.6% in total funding compared to this year’s budget. The fluctuation has to do with the timing of grant funding.

The joint committee voted 17-2 in favor of a budget for the Office of Species Conservation, which reflects a 1.3% increase in state general funds but a drop of 3.1% in total funds; 16-2 for an Office of Energy & Mineral Resources budget that shows a 13.1% increase over this year largely due to increased federal grants and no general funds; and 18-0 for an Idaho Public Utilities Commission budget that has no general funds and an increase of 2.4% overall.

A budget for the Soil and Water Conservation Commission passed 17-2; it shows a 10.1% increase in general funds and 9.3% overall, largely due to the addition of $200,000 in general funds to be distributed evenly to the 50 local soil and water conservation districts, or $4,000 per district.

All “no” votes cast in the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee this morning came from Nate and Giddings. The budgets need approval in both the House and Senate and the governor’s signature to become law, but budget bills rarely change once they’re set by the joint committee.

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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