Child nutrition assistance program put on hold after committee vote

Committee also approves new Legislative Services position and funding for Federalism Committee

By: - April 12, 2021 6:06 pm

Door to the Joint-Finance Appropriations Committee room at the Idaho State Capitol building on March 23, 2021. (Otto Kitsinger for Idaho Capital Sun)

Funding for a nutrition assistance program benefiting approximately 71,000 children stalled Monday after the Idaho Legislature’s Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee delayed approval because one legislator expressed concerns about the accounting process.

Legislators delayed the funding for the Pandemic-Electronic Benefit Transfer program administered by the Idaho State Department of Education after Rep. Ron Nate, R-Rexburg, raised a concern that there would be “double counting” of the $1.65 million set aside for the program – once for the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, which passes the funding to the Department of Education, and once for the education department itself.

“In order for an agency to expend funds, they will need an appropriation, and oftentimes that does appear to be a double appropriation,” Jared Tatro, principal budget and policy analyst for the Idaho Legislature, told the committee. “The Department of Health and Welfare still needs a portion of the appropriation because they’ll still have some costs related to this.”

Nate said he believed the Health and Welfare appropriation should still be reduced as a result of the education department’s appropriation. Committee members then decided to delay approval of the funding until Tuesday’s meeting to allow analysts time to clarify the issue.

Federalism Committee pilot program appropriation approved

An appropriation of up to $250,000 was approved for a pilot program that will use technology to evaluate and appraise federal lands for their fair taxable reimbursement values in Idaho. The appropriation is part of House Concurrent Resolution 8, which calls on the Legislature’s Federalism Committee to study the impact of the United States Government Payment in Lieu of Taxes program in Idaho. The Payment in Lieu of Taxes program was created to compensate local governments for the loss of income in their state or county due to the presence of federal land. The resolution passed the Legislature on April 9.

The committee will review requests for proposals for the pilot program’s technology, and any unused dollars will revert back to the general fund, according to Rep. Wendy Horman, R-Idaho Falls, who sits on the Federalism Committee.

Funding for Legislative Services position approved

The committee also approved $69,500 for one full-time position in the Legislative Services Office and $500 in operating expenditures to assist the sunset review committee outlined in Senate Bill 1084, passed by the Legislature on April 8. According to the bill, the committee will determine the appropriateness and necessity of existing regulation and provide a regular opportunity to reduce or eliminate unnecessary regulation.

The Legislative Services staff member will assist with the review of 442 licenses with multiple licensing authorities, and the position would be subject to the continuation of funding during the annual budgeting process.

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Kelcie Moseley-Morris
Kelcie Moseley-Morris

Kelcie Moseley-Morris is an award-winning journalist who has covered many topics across Idaho since 2011. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Idaho and a master’s degree in public administration from Boise State University. Moseley-Morris started her journalism career at the Moscow-Pullman Daily News, followed by the Lewiston Tribune and the Idaho Press.