The Idaho Legislature’s Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee unanimously approved a $1 million supplemental funding request on Friday for extra security costs at the University of Idaho following the Nov. 13 slayings of four students.
The supplemental funding is a one-time request and would go to the University of Idaho for services from Idaho State Police, a safe shuttle service, increased security, counseling services, a campus vigil, a physical security review and consulting services, according to the request submitted to JFAC.
The funding is separate from a $1 million emergency funding request Gov. Brad Little authorized in early December, Division of Financial Management Administrator Alex Adams told the Idaho Capital Sun. Little’s emergency funding was for Idaho State Police and Moscow Police, Adams said. The $1 million supplemental funding request JFAC approved Friday comes from the state’s general fund and goes to the University of Idaho.
The $1 million supplemental JFAC approved Friday was based on actual costs the University of Idaho incurred through Dec. 31, Legislative Services Office budget analyst Nate Osborne told JFAC.
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House Education Committee Chairwoman Julie Yamamoto, R-Caldwell, asked JFAC to approve the $1 million supplemental funding for University of Idaho the day before JFAC issued Friday’s vote.
“With the security incident cost at the U of I, we see that as truly an emergency, not planned. A horrific incident,” Yamamoto told JFAC Thursday. “There was some conversation around the Idaho State Police and whether they have already been paid for their services, but my understanding is that is over and above what they would normally do, so that was actually billed to U of I and obviously falls under an emergency expenditure.”
Sen. Janie Ward-Engelking, D-Boise, made the motion to approve the supplemental funding.
“It’s my understanding that the University of Idaho’s expenses exceeded the $1 million, this will help them defer some of those costs,” Ward-Engelking said during Friday’s JFAC meeting. “I might just say I have two grandchildren currently at the U of I, and so I was so pleased to hear about the increased presence of security on campus. They provided counseling services for students. They ran additional shuttle services to get kids to and from classes, and they hired a consultant that would help with the media.”
“That was a pretty horrible situation, so I just was so pleased about what they did and how they responded and I just wanted to put that in the record,” Ward-Engelking added.
Now that JFAC has approved the supplemental funding request, it will need to receive a simple majority vote in both the Idaho House of Representatives and Idaho Senate and be signed by Little.
JFAC hadn’t held any votes during the 2023 legislative session until Thursday. Republican legislative leaders have been debating proposed voting changes for JFAC backed by House Speaker Mike Moyle, R-Star. Republicans announced an agreement Feb. 9, but Moyle told the Sun on Thursday that he is working on draft legislation and a rule change to formalize changes to JFAC’s voting process.
Friday marks the end of the sixth week of the 2023 legislative session. Next week, JFAC is scheduled to begin setting the 2024 state budget.