Bell: Wolf Fund Won't Receive $2 Million

2014-03-09T04:00:00Z Bell: Wolf Fund Won't Receive $2 MillionBy Kimberlee Kruesi - Twin Falls Times-News

BOISE • A bill asking for $2 million to kill up to 500 of Idaho’s wolves won’t get even half of its requested appropriation, said co-chair of the state’s budget committee.

Instead, an unexpected bailout to make up for missing federal e-rate funds to pay for the Idaho Education Network (IEN) broadband program has taken precedence, said state Rep. Maxine Bell, R-Jerome, co-chair of the Joint Finance Appropriations Committee.

“We have some flexibility when it comes to killing wolves,” Bell said. “We don’t have flexibility with IEN.”

JFAC has already approved $6.6 million out of this year’s budget to make up for past-due payments to Education Networks of America, the state’s contractor on the broadband project. It’s money the federal government was supposed to pay for the state’s school broadband program but never did.

The supplemental appropriations bill passed both houses and now just needs the signature of the governor.

“Frankly, based on our discussions with legal counsel, we are obligated for this piece,” said state Sen. Dean Cameron, R-Rupert, while debating the bill on the Senate floor. “I need to inform you that this is the first half. The second half we are still arguing and discussing and re-discussing what we do for fiscal year 2015.”

Ever since the news was announced earlier this session, multiple lawmakers expressed their frustration with the state’s Department of Administration for extending the contract with the Education Networks of America through 2019 without informing lawmakers that the broadband vendor was not receiving the federal e-rate payments.

JFAC is expected to discuss the future of IEN next week, which includes a $7.3 million request from Otter and the Department of Administration to cover the federal payments for fiscal year 2015, Bell said.

This means that the wolf bill will also be discussed next week, Bell said, but it won’t get the requested $2 million.

“It will probably get less than $1 million or closer to the $400,000 that was requested last year,” she said.

Bell was referring to a recommendation a committee submitted to Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter last summer on how to fund ongoing wolf control efforts. The recommendation asked for $400,000 annually for five years to kill wolves that preyed on livestock.

Instead, Otter ignored the recommendation and requested $2 million of one-time funding to kill wolves during his State of the State speech in January.

The proposed wolf control bill — sponsored by state Sen. Bert Brackett, R-Rogerson — calls for a five-member oversight board that would manage the requested $2 million. The members would be made up of directors from the state Department of Fish and Game and Department of Agriculture, as well representatives from livestock industry, public at large and sportsmen.

Even if the bill makes it to the governor’s desk, it is up to JFAC to determine the final funding amount, Bell said. Budget writers will also decide if the money should come out of one-time or ongoing funds.

“We weren’t expecting to pay this much to IEN ... it’s forced us to change a few things,” Bell said.

Copyright 2015 Twin Falls Times-News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(12) Comments

  1. Wolves4Ever
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    Wolves4Ever - March 14, 2014 3:06 pm
    Why don't you report the recent news that wolves are actually essential to the environment and that killing them is flawed science and also politically motivated? An independent panel of scientists has unanimously agreed with what we wolf supporters have long argued: that the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service did not use "best available science" in its proposal to strip wolves of their federal protections.
    The findings by this panel of scientists, a group convened at the government’s request, matter because the Endangered Species Act requires that decisions about federal protections for species be based on the “best available science.”
    Now that's news versus reporting about ignorant and misguided legislation to make money off of killing big game.
  2. Kathy3882
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    Kathy3882 - March 13, 2014 3:38 pm
  3. Kathy3882
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    Kathy3882 - March 13, 2014 3:37 pm
    AMEN!!! Couldn't have said it any better!
  4. Kathy3882
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    Kathy3882 - March 13, 2014 3:36 pm
    You would think the governor would be more concerned with poverty and education, wouldn't you! But full bellies and education won't entertain your hunting buddies when they come to town, or keep the ranchers in your good graces. Butcher Otter and his cronies need to go!
  5. Remus
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    Remus - March 13, 2014 1:10 pm
    I can't believe we're spending any PUBLIC $ for killing animals that are a natural part of this ecosystem... Completely ridiculous! :/ :(
  6. skippa
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    skippa - March 12, 2014 5:19 pm
    You'd think with all of the money that Idaho is already spending on Wolf killing (Predator Derbies, hired Bounty Hunters killing multiple packs of Wolves in Federal Wilderness Areas last December, Wildlife Services killing five Wolf packs in the Lolo last month) and with all of the uneducated, undernourished people living in the state (one of the highest rates of poverty and lowest educational levels in the entire US), Idaho would have it's spending priorities in better order. Many studies have shown that being stupid and hungry makes you more inclined to hate Wolves and by the looks of things in Idaho right now both hunger and a lack of education are epidemic in proportion in the State of Idaho.
  7. Icemanfan9
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    Icemanfan9 - March 10, 2014 1:04 am
    Livestock are the real non-native species. They were brought over here along with the settlers and have turned much of the West into a desert. Nothing can grow there anymore.
  8. Criznit
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    Criznit - March 10, 2014 12:10 am
    Wolves have every right be exist in Idaho... Just like cows do.. There is a balance, but when rancher use lands that technically "we all own", they have to deal with that reality. Bio-diversity is crucial to our existence, but there are plenty of people who can't realize that.
  9. Criznit
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    Criznit - March 10, 2014 12:07 am
    Can you explain why the federal goverment did not pay? This part: 'JFAC has already approved $6.6 million out of this year’s budget to make up for past-due payments to Education Networks of America, the state’s contractor on the broadband project. It’s money the federal government was supposed to pay for the state’s school broadband program but never did."

    Thanks - that is an important detail.
  10. beans4u
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    beans4u - March 09, 2014 10:43 pm
    Wolves are not endangered and never were. There were over 60,000 in Canada and Alaska when the (non-native) wolf was "reintroduced" into Idaho, Wyoming and Montana. But what a great scam it is.
  11. julierl
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    julierl - March 09, 2014 2:51 pm
    "We have some flexiblility when it comes to killing wolves..." sheesh. Not one dime toward further wolf killing in Ida-hell.
  12. Kris Kennedy
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    Kris Kennedy - March 09, 2014 12:02 pm
    Whether 2 million or 400,000 it's insane to spend even a dime to kill wolves, especially since killing them is destructive to ecosystems and tourism. It would be a lot less expensive to get rid of Butcher Otter and his hunting, trapping, outfitting, and ranching buddies who are lining his pockets. The war that Otter and his hillbilly clones are waging against wolves is ignorant, malicious, greedy, destructive, wasteful, and deranged and they should be a lot more concerned about promoting and funding education, non-consumptive activities and tourism, health care, wiser use of resources, preservation of all wildlife and ecosystems, clean air and water, clean energy, stiff penalties for animal abusers, and other POSITIVE agendas. Butcher Otter and his barbaric, wolf hating cronies are ruining any positive reputation that Idaho might have ever had and they're pushing people away from wanting to visit and spend money there. Getting rid of Otter and anyone else like him would be the best thing that could happen to the state.

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