Idaho Gov. Butch Otter joined GOP legislative leaders today to declare this year’s legislative session a success. “In 74 days, I thought we accomplished a lot,” Otter said. “I think it was probably one of the smoothest sessions I’ve ever seen.” He said it “maybe didn’t meet everybody’s expectations – they didn’t meet all my expectations. But I’d gladly take the results, and appreciate ‘em. And I think it’s a good path forward, especially in the education package. I think it’s a great start.”
Otter said he wasn’t concerned that lawmakers passed over his recommendation for $30 million in additional new tax cuts next year, and instead nearly doubled his proposed increase in public school funding. “I think that they found a better use for the money than tax relief this year,” Otter said. “In their wisdom and in my conclusion, I think they made the right decision.”
Otter touted the start that lawmakers made toward funding his education improvement task force’s recommendations, including restoring part of the cuts made in recent years to public school operations funding; the state bailout of the Idaho Education Network, which faced possible shutdown as federal funds were cut off due to a dispute over the state’s award of the original contract; the passage of a criminal justice reinvestment plan; passage of business tax credit incentive legislation for companies that create large numbers of higher-paying new jobs in the state; and funding for water projects and wolf control.
“They did it all while showing the kind of fiscal responsibility and attention to the proper role of government that has been consistently lacking in our national government,” Otter said.
House Speaker Scott Bedke, R-Oakley, noted that lawmakers did grant some tax relief this year – by allowing the next increment in Idaho’s phased-in grocery tax credit to go into effect next year, at a cost to the state general fund of $15 million. That money “will accrue to all Idaho citizens in the form of increased grocery tax credit,” Bedke said. “It was policy that we set in the past, but it was another $15 million in tax relief that will accrue to all Idaho citizens.”