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Idaho budget writers adopt 2014 budget target

BOISE, Idaho (AP) -- Budget writers adopted Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter's budget target, agreeing to a plan that foresees Idaho's state spending growing some 3 percent to $2.78 billion in 2014.

Rep. Maxine Bell, a Republican from Jerome and Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee's co-chair, will leave Idaho with a "structurally balanced budget" with enough money so that state government isn't left scrambling mid-year to find cash to pay for programs or agencies.

The plan sets aside $35 million into reserve funds, pays for increased state-employee benefit costs, and funds Otter's proposed personal property tax repeal.

It calls for Idaho spending $80 million more than last year.

Republican Sen. Dean Cameron of Rupert described the spending target as a "ceiling," pointing out lawmakers can always decide to spend less money, if they decide against some proposals.