The Joint Finance and Appropriations Committee Wednesday reconsidered the Connecting Idaho bonding program, voted to redirect a portion of the project funding and allow the Idaho Transportation Board greater flexibility in directing the program.
By an overwhelming margin, JFAC members voted to:
“The bonding authorized in Section 1 of this act shall be used to finance the following projects, providing the amounts listed below for construction, engineering, right-of-way acquisition, program management costs and bond financing costs," according to the motion:
Included in the motion was acknowledgment that the transportation board has a federal appropriation of more than $291 million at its discretion and that, to the extent possible, the department should focus on projects with the greatest public safety needs.
“From all views, we think the language is an important improvement to what was originally passed,” said ITD Director Dave Ekern. Specifically, it:
“I think this will be a good start to the Connecting Idaho GARVEE program,” Ekern added. “I want to thank all of the individuals who helped put material together for the work to this point.”
Board Chairman Chuck Winder also acknowledged the work of the director and ITD staff in gaining approval of the 2006 GARVEE request.
“I also want to thank each and everyone of you that participated in this process. We still have to get through both the House and Senate, but the JFAC vote … was very supportive, so I am feeling pretty comfortable that we will indeed get the support we need from both houses of the legislature.
“Also thanks to Dave Ekern for his leadership and direction in working with the ITD staff, the governor's staff and with the legislative services staff. You have given it 100 percent, and I thank you very much for all of your help and hard work.”