Kathleen W. (Kitty) Gurnsey represented the North and East ends of Boise in the Idaho legislature for twenty-two years. First elected to the state House of Representatives in 1974, she was reelected ten more times before retiring in 1996. Mrs. Gurnsey made her mark in the legislature as co-chair of the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee, the House-Senate panel that serves as the state budget-writing committee. Appointed to JFAC in 1976, she became co-chair in 1980 and served in that capacity for sixteen years. "In her role as budget co-chairwoman, she brought a flair for numbers and an institutional memory that outlasted three governors and five speakers," wrote the Idaho Statesman in 1996. The newspaper called her "the most powerful woman in state government." House Speaker Mike Simpson commented, "She runs the state budget like it's her own checkbook." Her papers do, indeed, reflect the close scrutiny she applied to the details of state spending and to state government operations.
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