Idaho Gov. Butch Otter took an upbeat tone in his sixth State of the State message to lawmakers today, urging them to start where they all agree and get things done for the state – including his proposal for Idaho to run its own health insurance exchange. You can read my full story here at spokesman.com.
While proposing no base pay increases for state employees or teachers, and proposing a 3.1 percent spending increase next year though his economists expect 5.3 percent growth, Otter expressed optimism about the state’s economic outlook. “People have been hearing for four years about what we can’t do,” he said after his speech. “Let’s talk about what we can do.”
“At least he’s keeping his conservative perspective on increases for the state budget,” said an approving Rep. Vito Barbieri, R-Dalton Gardens – though Barbieri remains adamantly opposed to a state-based insurance exchange. Said Rep. Eric Anderson, R-Priest Lake, “We’ve got our job cut out for us.”
House Speaker Scott Bedke, R-Oakley, praised Otter for making a structurally balanced budget a top priority, after years of filling in budget holes with one-time funds as Idaho struggled through the recession. “Idaho has done what the United States has yet to do, i.e. live within the taxpayers’ means,” he said.