Eye On Boise

The tale of the governor's mansion that isn't

The Idaho House, Idaho's official governor's residence - though no Idaho governor has lived there - and the former home of the late billionare J.R. Simplot (Betsy Russell)
The Idaho House, Idaho's official governor's residence - though no Idaho governor has lived there - and the former home of the late billionare J.R. Simplot (Betsy Russell)

For more than three decades, Idaho has struggled with the issue of a governor's mansion, ever since then-Gov. Cecil Andrus refused to live in the deteriorating Boise home the state had provided since 1947. Billionaire J.R. Simplot's donation to the state of his hilltop mansion in 2004 seemed to end the dilemma, as it was donated specifically to be Idaho's official residence for future governors. But no Idaho governor has ever lived there, and lawmakers' patience is wearing thin over the maintenance costs for the 36-acre grassy hilltop spread - an estimated $177,400 for the next year, including $80,000 in grounds maintenance and $40,000 for electricity.

"I just think that the idea of a governor's mansion in general is wrong," said Sen. Les Bock, D-Boise, who's pushing to sell off the property. "We have a different perception of these kind of perks than we used to." Bock said his constituents have been clear: "It's just the sort of thing that ... just drives them absolutely nuts."

All but five states provide official residences for their governors, and most, like Washington's, are historic properties laden with tradition and close or adjacent to the state Capitol. You can read my full story here at spokesman.com.
 




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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Russell covers Idaho news from the state capitol in Boise and writes the Eye on Boise blog.

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