Depending on your appetite for the nobility of public service or the sublime ridiculousness of old white men demagoguing from sunrise to sunset, this may be your favorite time of year. While the rest of the populace nurses its New Year's hangover, rotunda watchers are anxiously filling their day planners with all-important dates for the 2013 edition of the Idaho Legislature.
Thursday, Jan. 3-Friday, Jan. 4: Select legislators, making up the Economic Outlook and Revenue Assessment Committee, participate in two marathon session, being briefed by state officials and Idaho representatives from the agriculture, construction, technology, timber and travel sectors.
Monday, Jan. 7, 1 p.m.: Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter delivers his State of the State address, per Article IV, Section 8 of the Idaho Constitution. More important--but with a lot less fanfare--Otter's minions unveil their boss' proposed 2014 budget.
Tuesday, Jan. 8: The first meeting of the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee, the budget-setting bluster house tasked with crafting a balanced budget, per Article VII, Section 11 of the Idaho Constitution.
Wednesday, Jan. 9, 1:30-5 p.m.: Ethics training for legislators. Somehow, we don't recall this item being on too many previous legislature calendars.
Friday, Jan. 18: The deadline for state senators to introduce any of their personal bills.
Friday, Jan. 25: The deadline for House representatives to introduce any of their personal bills.
Monday, Feb. 11: Deadline for State and House committee introductions of bills, constitutional amendments and joint resolutions.
Friday, Jan. 15: JFAC target to complete its budget hearings.
Friday, March 8: JFAC target to complete its budget.
Friday, March 22: Sine die target date. Yeah, right.
And finally, keep some key numbers at the ready as you watch the legislators hammer out a spending plan for Fiscal Year 2014, which begins in July;
The Idaho Division of Financial Management is projecting FY 2014 general fund revenue to come in at approximately $2.87 billion--a 6.5 percent jump over FY 2013. However, K-12 schools, higher education, Health and Welfare/Medicaid, Public Safety, Natural Resources and basic inflation and benefit increases are expected to easily top $2.9 billion.
Let the games begin.