Despite national reports that Idaho Gov. Butch Otter was among a few governors who would reject federal stimulus money, Otter said Friday that he’ll take most – if not all – of the cash. “I’m gonna hold my nose, and I’m gonna take it,” he told the Idaho Press Club. The transportation money, in particular, carries strings that require the state to accept all or none of it, Otter said. “If you reject one dollar of that, they take it all – so you’ve got to reject all of it or none of it.” The remainder of Idaho’s roughly $1 billion in stimulus funds is mostly for either education or health and human services, and Otter said he’ll rely on guidance from state schools Superintendent Tom Luna and state Health and Welfare Director Dick Armstrong on those funds. Luna is calling for accepting “every penny” of the education funds, and Armstrong built his Medicaid budget around the anticipated federal help.
“I’ve never said that I wouldn’t take any of the stimulus package,” Otter said. “It’d been my druthers that they didn’t do it in the first place, and didn’t do it the way they did it. You know, if you’d put it all into jobs creation or jobs retention, to me that would have been much more acceptable.” But with the money on its way, Otter said he’s ready to take it, providing it doesn’t obligate the state to replace the federal funds when they end by raising state taxes. You can read my full story here in today’s Spokesman-Review.