Budget writers approve $50M to help hard-hit Idaho communities

Budget writers approved $50 million in state funding.

BOISE - The Joint Finance Appropriations Committee unanimously approved $50 million in funding to help those Idaho counties where a disaster has been declared.

For many parts of the state, winter disasters aren’t over and if this measure is ultimately approved, help will be on the way fast.

“The weather has been very unique; it began in December so it has been going on awhile,” said JFAC co-chair Rep. Maxine Bell.

“This has been very harsh, there's been a lot of freezing, there has been a lot of thawing, avalanches, floods,” said Idaho Transportation Department spokesman Vince Trimboli.

Harsh winter weather has caused devastation around many parts of Idaho.

“There was 50 million one-time dollars and it will go to disasters that has happened in those counties, that have been declared disaster area,” said Bell.

Bell says this $50 million is a result of good budgeting and tax revenues, and will be used for just about anything.

“Roads, bridges, culverts, anything where there is damage, where people cannot travel to school, perhaps roofs, not personal homes,” added Bell.

The emergency funding measure must still win legislative approval from the House and Senate, If passed, it would then go to the governor.

“I know his feelings, he has seen the devastation. He has flown over it and the second he signs it will go to work,” said Bell.

If signed by the governor, the money will become available immediately and be handled through Idaho’s Office of Emergency Management.

“Our agency will be responsible for having a review panel, a long-term recovery review panel, which will have members of Idaho Association of Counties, highway districts, ITD, and then the governor's office will determine where that money will be best spent at one time,” said Idaho’s OEM public affairs officer Elizabeth Duncan.

© 2017 KTVB-TV


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