BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Idaho Gov. Brad Little on Friday ordered a 1% cut in state agency spending because of the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus.
He also directed the Idaho Department of Labor to make it easier to file unemployment claims as thousands of workers have lost their jobs in recent weeks as businesses have shut down.
“There’s hardly a part of the social safety net that we have that’s not having a lot of challenges,” Little said, “and we’re trying to address that.”
His actions Friday followed his decision Wednesday to issue a statewide stay-at-home order as the coronavirus continues to spread.
Idaho has 205 cases and three deaths, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally on Friday afternoon.
The Republican governor said the 1% cutback doesn’t apply to health care workers and will save the state about $40 million.
He also ordered a $40 million transfer into emergency funds to fight the virus while the state waits for an expected $1.25 billion from the federal government that’s part of a $2.2 trillion rescue package passed by Congress on Friday to help the nation deal with the economic fallout caused by the virus.
Little said the combined $80 million from the budget cut and emergency transfer would help the state get through until the federal money arrives. He said the state money will buy medical supplies that include protective equipment for healthcare workers, ventilators, test kits, lab supplies and hospital beds.
Officials didn’t have an amount of the expected budget revenue shortfall. Idaho’s budget for the current fiscal year, which ends this summer, has already been set by the Legislature that adjourned last week. But it was based on a better economic outlook.
Idaho’s constitution requires the state to end the fiscal year with a balanced budget, and Little said the budget cut is aimed to do that.
“Sales tax numbers are down, particularly for big-ticket items,” he said. “You can imagine what the personal income and corporate income tax are doing.”
Public schools, which are closed across the state, are not exempt from the 1% cut, Little said, click here to read more