Budget writers eye $34.5M to stop wildfires

Posted at 11:09 AM, Mar 16, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-16 13:09:31-04

BOISE, Idaho (AP) -- Idaho budget writers are preparing for another hectic wildfire season by allocating $34.5 million to help cover the expected high costs of managing and suppressing flames across the state.

The Joint Finance Appropriations Committee voted 13-4 on Wednesday to funnel the money for the fiscal year 2017 wildfire season.

Republican Sen. Shawn Keough, co-chairwoman of the budget-setting committee, says the Legislature has typically paid for the state's wildfire expenses once the season is over. However, as costs have ballooned over the years, lawmakers are finding new ways to pay for wildfire suppression.

Last year's catastrophic wildfire season cost Idaho taxpayers $60 million.

The budget proposal still needs to pass through the House and Senate, but bills are rarely changed after leaving the committee.