A new campaign commercial from Keith Allred, the Democratic candidate for governor of Idaho, blames GOP Gov. Butch Otter for the state of Idaho’s economy, saying Otter “focused on helping special-interest cronies instead of creating jobs.” Allred cites a big decline in the rate of personal income growth in Idaho since Otter took office, compared to surrounding states, along with a drop-off in the growth rate from 2006 to 2008 for the state’s gross domestic product, the very measure Otter has targeted to grow with his “Project 60” economic initiative.
Otter’s campaign counters that a USA Today article just named Idaho one of the states “leading the nation’s crawl out” of the recession, which noted that Idaho rose from 50th in the nation for personal-income growth during the recession years, to 10th since the recession officially ended in June of 2009. The article called that “the USA’s biggest rebound.” “National accolades don’t just happen without true leadership,” declared Ryan Panitz, spokesman for Otter’s campaign. “Gov. Otter made the necessary changes to government and got people working together to better our economy.”
Actually, said Boise State University economics professor Don Holley, “The economy’s not doing very poorly, and it’s not doing very well - it’s just like every other state, it’s kind of reached the bottom and not moved off of it.” The best and most up-to-date statistics on the state of the economy, he said, are employment and unemployment. Idaho had very low unemployment rates before the recession, but “we got worse faster than almost anybody else,” he said, led by the collapse of a highly speculative housing market. You can read my full story here at spokesman.com.