This year’s Economic Outlook & Revenue Assessment Committee process had a much different dynamic than recent years, in which lawmakers have sharply undercut the governor’s economic forecast, forcing much larger budget cuts. Instead, this year brought an extension by legislative leaders of an olive branch to Gov. Butch Otter, accepting his numbers, opening the way for discussion of his proposals, and signifying perhaps a different, more productive working relationship between lawmakers and Otter as this year’s legislative session begins.
Fourteen of the committee’s 18 members went along with the Hill-Bedke motion to adopt the governor’s numbers, with caveats that things could change later in the session when more actual revenue figures are in. Hill said, “I really think that the number is reasonable.” Sen. Shawn Keough, R-Sandpoint, who chaired the joint committee today, said, “My support for the motion today was in recognition that we’re still way early in the session – we’re in the first week.” She said, “I think it gives us a window of opportunity.”
Bedke said, “The governor’s the leader of our party, and so we are not about picking fights at this point. That’s not to say that we don’t have a deep respect for the balance of powers and all of the principles embodied in that phrase. … But we have the luxury of time here.”