BOISE (Idaho Statesman) — Amid a funding shortfall caused by rising costs, Idaho’s police training academy canceled three classes this year, causing logjams in the mandatory instruction system for officers across the state.

History may repeat if lawmakers, who hope to wrap up the legislative session in the coming weeks, don’t approve funding to carry the academy through the upcoming fiscal year.

“These are all officers and deputies that are already hired and working, and they haven’t had an opportunity to attend basic training,” Brad Johnson, administrator of the Division of Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST), told the Idaho Statesman by phone. “So it’s really not a great situation for anybody.”

POST is the statewide accreditation program for law enforcement officers. The state-run POST Training Academy, based in Meridian, offers two- to three-month certification courses throughout the year, including to city and county law enforcement officers.

Johnson asked the Legislature’s budget committee for an additional $1.1 million to cover this year’s academy shortfall and ensure classes aren’t canceled next fiscal year, which starts July 1.

The Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee (JFAC) on March 3 approved half the request, clearing a $550,000 cash transfer for the current fiscal year. But the other half was not included in next year’s budget, as the agency requested.

Lawmakers said they want to give a new funding source, created last legislative session, an opportunity to prove itself before approving the full amount.


As inflation hiked the cost of food, fuel and other goods needed to operate classes, Idaho’s Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) Academy canceled three instruction programs scheduled from January through next month.

That helped preserve limited funds for the remaining fiscal year, which ends June 30, Johnson said. But it also meant pushing back training that law enforcement officers must complete within a year after being hired.

“It just backlogs everything in the system,” Moscow Police Chief James Fry told the Statesman by phone. “We may not get somebody in the academy until December or January.”

Funding for the training academy was dubious before inflation spiked prices by as much as 9% last year. In 2022, lawmakers created a new POST fund to address chronic underfunding. The dedicated fund directs 1.5% of liquor sales revenue to the academy with a $1 million cap.

The liquor fund should have resolved previous shortfalls, but inflation threw a wrench in spending projections, Johnson told JFAC earlier this month.

POST receives its funding monthly, as opposed to a lump sum at the start of a fiscal year, Johnson told the Statesman. So when food prices spiked 90% after the current fiscal year’s budget was finalized, it had a domino effect.

“We’re much like a family, where you get so much money a month and you have to meet all of your expenses that month,” Johnson said.


JFAC on March 3 approved a $550,000 cash transfer to POST. That will address the “immediate concern” around this year’s shortfall, Rep. Britt Raybould, R-Rexburg, told the committee.

But approving full $1.1 million request before the committee could see results from a full year of the dedicated liquor fund would be “jumping the gun,” Raybould said.

“We could very well discover that the timing of the dedicated funds over the course of a year could be sufficient for the funding,” she said.

The $550,000 will make up for this year’s shortfall, Johnson said, but the academy likely will need twice as much to avoid class cancellations next year.

“Our projections show that we’re still going to wind up short, so I’m still hopeful that JFAC is going to reconsider that,” Johnson said. “There’s no doubt in my mind that JFAC wants to make sure that we can function and provide the training that our stakeholder agencies depend on.”

During the March 3 meeting, Rep. Steve Miller, R-Fairfield, said it seems like lawmakers are trying to run the academy “awfully tight.”

Rep. Wendy Horman, R-Idaho Falls, who co-chairs the budget committee, told Miller an additional cash transfer proposal may be coming soon that would address next fiscal year’s expenses.

House and Senate leaders told reporters Wednesday that they hope to adjourn by March 24.

State budget analysts are projecting a $1.4 billion tax revenue surplus at the end of the current fiscal year.

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