JFAC cancels Idaho's 'listening hearings' on the budget after two-year experiment

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Dean Cameron announced this morning that hearings that more than 1,700 citizens to the Capitol in the past two years have been cancelled because leadership asked the joint budget committee end the practice.

The Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee was to have held two hearings this year: Feb. 1 on education, natural resources and general government agencies, and Feb. 8 on health and human services, public safety and economic development agencies.

Cameron said he was disappointed, but had to accept the will of leadership. House Speaker Scott Bedke and Senate President Pro Tem Brent Hill both told me they asked Cameron and his co-chair, Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Maxine Bell, to suspend the hearings. JFAC will return to its historic status as the only committee not to take public testimony; JFAC only hears from state agency chiefs as it writes the state budget.

I'll have more on this in Saturday's print edition.

Meanwhile, here is the report on Cameron's statement from Betsy Russell of the Spokesman-Review.

1358534801 JFAC cancels Idaho's 'listening hearings' on the budget after two-year experiment Idaho Statesman Copyright 2014 Idaho Statesman . All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Turf

According to Senator Cameron, the "leadership" told him to cancel the meetings because they were concerned that issues under the purview of other committees would be discussed in the JFAC before they were discussed in the other committees.

It seems that protecting the turf of the other committees has trumped the public's ability to provide important feedback to the committee that actually decides how to spend the our money.

hard, it is not the purview

hard, it is not the purview of jfac to be making policy changes and that is what the hearings were headed. Jfac is responsible for budgeting for the policies made by the departments and the germane committees. The public is not limited by this move and still as the ability to make their suggestions and opinions known very readily via email and in person.

You think?

Do you think that someone like Goedde reads his own e-mail? Or, if he does, that he reads all of it?

You suggest, as well, that I have no problem in talking to Goedde in person. I disagree. I am unable to vote for him because I live in another district; therefore, I'm down one strike or two already.

But you can prove me wrong. Call him up and schedule a meeting. Tell him that you want to talk about your opposition to education reform, or that you want to discuss why repealing the personal property tax is a mistake. Pick any of his pet projects, take the opposite side, and see how long you wait for that appointment.

That's why he has STAFF.

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People are broad-minded. They'll accept the fact that a person can be an alcoholic, a dope fiend, a wife beater and even a newspaperman, but if a man doesn't drive, there's something wrong with him.

Yes, I believe Goedde reads his own email

as do most members of the Idaho Legislature. He has a secretary who probably spends most of her time preparing committee hearings, sending out agendas and writing/correcting minutes, and scheduling meetings. I have written to any number of legislators and received prompt, personal responses. That said, access to email and the number of lobby groups who focus on creating volume makes it difficult for them to respond to everyone personally. I have received messages witha response explaining that my email will be read, but the legislator will prioritize responses to constituents from his district.

Canceling listening hearings

First, thank you Dan Popkey for letting us know about this. Second, shame on the leadership for creating another opaque shield between doing their business and the public WHO FUND THEIR DECISIONS (yes, I am yelling). Can someone give me a cogent explanation for what appears to be defensive government? Anyone. Please.

adius, see my reply to

adius, see my reply to hardcase. JFAC's hearings should have and must be limited to funding, budgeting not policy decisions. The germane committees and the departments have the knowledge and expertise in regard to policy regarding their areas; jfac does not have that overall knowledge and expertise.

Rose

Thank you for that information. I hope you can appreciate that any reduction in access to the process appears suspicious, particularly with the history of the past couple years.

Way too much power

Once again our dominant-party legislators have proven you don't need the will or best interest of the people to govern (rule) in Idaho. When will the Republican majority draw a line? Ever?

Hearings

As much as I would like to have those hearings held, I can understand where Speaker Bedke is coming from right now. There are so many new members on those committees, and so much material they have to acquaint themselves with, that they need to get a handle on the history of the issues before they start hearing testimony- wish JFAC and the committees could have coordinated on all of it.

Thanks for that

I'm still uncertain about this. I used to chair budget meetings for a large organization. It was the responsibility of the committee tmembers to know the material before the meeting including formulating questions and concerns based on the pre-meeting information. They would offer hold pre-meetings after digesting the material to formulate their questions and need for clarification. We would often respond to those questions before the big meeting. It saved us a lot of time and generated better decisions IMO. Perhaps the Legistlature is not as efficient, lacks the resources to do that, have too much to do or...? My concern is that this is vital function of the legislature and should be efficient and OPEN (shouting again).

Edited to correct auto-corrections that were unintelligible.

Your comments are notable,

Your comments are notable, adius, but jfac is funding of budgets not making or determining policy. Therein is the difference. jfac expertise is funding.

Do you mean "Time to get in line with the Party bosses"?

You say that the new members on those committees "need to get a handle on the history of the issues before they start hearing testimony." Reaching just a little, aren't you?

These new members didn't fall off a turnip truck on their way to town, and they weren't born yesterday. Presumably they wouldn't be elected officials if they weren't already knowledgeable about many of these issues. I think that you are trying to euphemistically suggest that they need to sit down, shut up, and be told what to think by Bedke, Goedde, and Co. before letting their understanding of the Party Line be sullied by testimony from the hoi polloi.

I've never seen a turnip truck. Are they mined, sent by rail?

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People are broad-minded. They'll accept the fact that a person can be an alcoholic, a dope fiend, a wife beater and even a newspaperman, but if a man doesn't drive, there's something wrong with him.

Unlike the Democrats in D.C.

at least they can be bothered to pass a budget.

At who's expense ?

Yeah Great, but who's interests do they have ? Not your's , unless you are a lobbyist of major corporation. Think outside of the box.
If there is not checks and balances the middle class will surely get hosed. Unless you are new to this country you should know that already.

Remember the constitution?

All bill of revenue must originate in the (republican) House of Representatives.

BTBAU

Business to Back as Usual. Those hearings often cut into time out at lobbyist funded dinners with drinks. This makes the impact of their ethics training rather short term.

Surprise Surprise

Made of the same folk who shoved Education reform down your throats with out stake holder input.
Stupid is as stupid does. They never learn because the voters never learn.

Hearings are good...Period

@Roses, I think what you may not be considering is the fact that public expression of ideas, thoughts, values - particularly from citizen to citizen, as well as from citizen to legislator, in a group setting - is inherently valuable and an educational experience. It doesn't matter whether JFAC itself is not a policy-making body. The fact is that its members make policy with other members, in other committee contexts. And the citizens who would seek voice at such hearings (and apparently did, in significant numbers) also make policy, albeit usually indirectly. So an opportunity for articulation, expression, listening is valuable, particularly if it includes some measure of interactivity (which I'm not sure was the case here); doing it in a group is even better; and we should use every opportunity for it.

There is already plenty of public input to be offered...

Each member of the legislateure has an office with a physical address, phone and a website, at least one or two of those...

Look them up and stop griping about that. There are established and appropriate entry points for public inputs already and they are AT the state level as well.

This is the internet age and you can look them up easily, which I heartily suggest you do, one and all.

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This brouhaha could have been prevented...communication?

PS My fingers are really cold!

Same Challenge to You

I'll make to you the same challenge I made to someone else earlier in this thread:

Call Goedde up and schedule a meeting. Tell him that you want to talk about your opposition to education reform, or that you want to discuss why repealing the personal property tax is a mistake. Pick any of his pet projects, take the opposite side, and see how long you wait for that appointment.

I'm an OREGONIAN, silly. I would call SALEM (Ontario,, kids).

Don't hate me because I can see *Idaho* from one block away from here, just down the freeway.

Besides, I'll never look as good as SHE (Palin) did in stockings, nor would I want to.

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People are broad-minded. They'll accept the fact that a person can be an alcoholic, a dope fiend, a wife beater and even a newspaperman, but if a man doesn't drive, there's something wrong with him.

Come on, FO

You know that phone calls to an office secretary or ignored emails don't have the same impact as looking someone in the eye while they speak to you. Lobbyists have constant personal access. It is wrong to lock the public out of their own house.

After you guys took it over? a while back...can't blame them.

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People are broad-minded. They'll accept the fact that a person can be an alcoholic, a dope fiend, a wife beater and even a newspaperman, but if a man doesn't drive, there's something wrong with him.

So they can glaze over in person...big fat hairy deal!

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This brouhaha could have been prevented...communication?

less of a voice than the Abramoff/ALEC class lobbyists

Yet another pro-education Republican is silenced along with Idaho Citizens. Citizens wary of privatizing everything public, deregulating all things business now have less of a voice than the Abramoff/ALEC class lobbyists.

What. Ever.

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People are broad-minded. They'll accept the fact that a person can be an alcoholic, a dope fiend, a wife beater and even a newspaperman, but if a man doesn't drive, there's something wrong with him.