Gov. Little addresses business community (copy)

Idaho Gov. Brad Little, shown on July 31, 2019, after delivering an address to the business community at JUMP in downtown Boise.

Idaho Gov. Brad Little is asking state agencies to pare 1% out of their current year’s budget and identify another 2% base reduction from their agency budgets for the coming year – but he’s exempting K-12 public schools.

“This would not apply to anything in the public school budget,” said Alex Adams, Little’s budget chief.

Instead, Little is pledging to propose continued investments into public schools next year. His education task force earlier this week endorsed five recommendations for improving Idaho’s schools over the next five years, from funding all-day kindergarten to raising pay for veteran teachers.

“Gov. Little’s No. 1 priority is education,” Little’s chief of staff, Zach Hauge, wrote in an Oct. 29 memo to all state agency heads. “He has said it is our moral and constitutional obligation to ensure Idaho students are prepared for a lifetime of learning and eventual careers. Gov. Little’s executive budget recommendation not only leaves K-12 schools harmless, but is guaranteed to include continued investments.”

The governor’s latest guidance to state agencies doesn’t go so far as to impose a holdback, or a mid-year cut in the state budget. The recission and base reduction, Adams said, are instead part of a “spending reset.” Agencies have until Nov. 11 to report how they'll cut the 1% this year. You can read my full story here at idahopress.com (subscription required), or pick up today’s edition of the Idaho Press; it’s on the front page.

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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