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Eye On Boise

TUESDAY, DEC. 16, 2008

When zero earnings are (relatively) good

Idaho's state endowment fund lost 4 percent in November, the state Land Board learned this morning, "which brings the fiscal year-to-date to a whopping 25," said manager Larry Johnson. The loss to the fund in November was 4.4 percent; fiscal year to date, it's 25.2...

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MONDAY, DEC. 15, 2008

No 'faithless electors' here

Idaho's portion of the Electoral College met today at noon, and the four electors, John Erickson, Melinda Smyser, Ben Doty and Darlene Bramon, dutifully cast their ballots for Republicans John McCain and Sarah Palin. Secretary of State Ben Ysursa, who was presiding along with Gov....

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SATURDAY, DEC. 13, 2008

Campaign expense: Pig, sheep, rabbits

Sen. Joyce Broadsword, R-Sagle, reported some unusual campaign expenditures during this year’s campaign – a pig, a sheep, and a pen of rabbits. “I kept the pig,” the North Idaho senator said. “I paid my campaign back for the meat at market price.” The rest...

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Forecast calls for pain

Idaho's economic forecast calls for pain, the governor's chief economist says, even as state agencies struggle to meet budget cuts imposed earlier this month. After years of faring better than the nation, Idaho's economy is now looking at its worst outlook in a quarter-century, state...

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FRIDAY, DEC. 12, 2008

'It's not getting better'

Mike Ferguson, chief economist for Gov. Butch Otter, gave a briefing for reporters on the state's revenue outlook this morning, and said, “The economic outlook is changing rapidly, and it's not getting better. ... Idaho is actually leading in terms of the decline in economic...

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THURSDAY, DEC. 11, 2008

But what to get them?

The Libertarian Party is celebrating its 37th birthday today, having been founded on Dec. 11, 1971, and ranking as America's third-largest political party. So what to get the birthday celebrant? Here's what Idaho gave the party's presidential candidate this year, Bob Barr: 3,658 votes. That's...

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TUESDAY, DEC. 9, 2008

Could Craig appeal again?

After losing his case at the Minnesota Court of Appeals, Idaho Sen. Larry Craig could appeal to the Minnesota Supreme Court, but he'd have to petition the court to hear his case. “Review is not automatic, and the court grants relatively few petitions,” said Steve...

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Craig's Minnesota appeal denied

The Minnesota Court of Appeals has denied Idaho Sen. Larry Craig’s appeal in a restroom sex-solicitation case, rejecting each and every one of the senator’s arguments for overturning his conviction on disorderly conduct charges, to which he earlier pleaded guilty. The senator, who was arrested...

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MONDAY, DEC. 8, 2008

TV changeover problematic in Gem State

When television broadcasting switches to digital on Feb. 17, 2009, most Americans won’t be affected, because they already get their TV signals from cable or satellite. But in Idaho, more than 400,000 people still get their TV signals over the air – a percentage that’s...

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FRIDAY, DEC. 5, 2008

ITD announces budget cuts

The Idaho Transportation Department has announced that it’s cutting its budget by $9 million and reducing administrative costs an additional $1.6 million, by transferring 18 administrative positions to “such critical services as bridge inspection, snowplowing, and road and bridge maintenance.” Pam Lowe, ITD director, said...

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Why not Risch?

Here’s a question: When Gov. Butch Otter was too sick this week to give a key speech, why didn’t he turn to his official stand-in, Lt. Gov. Jim Risch, to do it for him, rather than chief of staff Jason Kreizenbeck? Risch says the governor...

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THURSDAY, DEC. 4, 2008

Guv met them halfway

When the Senate sent a committee just now to inform the governor that it’s organized and ready for business, Gov. Butch Otter got a call that the senators were on the way, and made a point of heading out from his office and meeting them...

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House is done

The House has reconvened, read off its list of committee assignments for the upcoming session, and officially adjourned its organizational session. There were no changes in House committee chairmanships. House GOP Caucus Chair Ken Roberts said, “Ladies and gentlemen of the House, our work is...

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Ill guv is back on the job

Despite bronchitis that prevented him from delivering a key speech yesterday, Gov. Butch Otter is back at work, and last night appeared at a campaign event with legislators. Sen. Brad Little, R-Emmett, spoke for the governor, before Otter spoke very briefly. “He had a croaky...

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No leadership changes for GOP

House and Senate Republican leadership will remain the same as the last legislative session, with House Speaker Lawerence Denney, R-Midvale, leading the House, and Senate President Pro-Tem Bob Geddes, R-Soda Springs, leading the Senate. At this morning’s organizational session, legislators were sworn in and selected...

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Spoken the way it was written

House Majority Leader Mike Moyle, R-Star, who’s among the speakers this afternoon at the Associated Taxpayers of Idaho annual conference, opened his talk with this comment about Otter chief of staff Jason Kreizenbeck’s delivery of the governor’s keynote speech at lunch today: “I think that’s...

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Reaction mixed, mostly positive

Reaction to the governor’s transportation proposals from legislators is mixed, but mostly positive so far. “I’ve said all along that we need to focus at least on maintenance, so that we don’t fall farther behind,” said House Speaker Lawerence Denney. He joked, “With the volatility...

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Otter wants gas tax hike, fee increases

Gov. Butch Otter informed legislators today that Idaho needs to raise its gas tax, increase car and truck registration fees, tax rental cars and more to fund pressing transportation maintenance needs around the state. “What will be revealed in January is whether we have the...

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Guv sick, but speech still on

Gov. Butch Otter went home sick yesterday and was bad enough off that he went to the doctor, only to find out he has bronchitis. “He just sounds terrible,” said Jon Hanian, Otter’s press secretary. Otter’s scheduled to give a big speech today to the...

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Disgraced lawmaker in trouble again

Former state Sen. Jack Noble, who resigned from the Idaho Senate in 2005 in an ethics scandal, is in trouble again, this time being dunned for failing to provide workers compensation insurance for workers at his now-defunct Idaho dairy. The bankrupt Noble reportedly has moved...

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TUESDAY, DEC. 2, 2008

State revenues could be down 8%

Back in August, the governor’s Division of Financial Management estimated that state tax revenues would be down 4.9 percent from last year, a significant drop – but now the figure’s larger. State chief economist Mike Ferguson would only say yesterday that it’s worse; revised revenue...

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MONDAY, DEC. 1, 2008

Report calls for raises, Guv says no

Idaho’s annual Change in Employee Compensation report, which was required by law to be submitted to the governor and Legislature today, shows that state employee wages still lag 15 percent behind market rates, and calls for 5 percent raises, to be distributed by merit, to...

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Dems: 'A bleak budget picture'

Idaho Democratic legislative leaders aren’t disagreeing with Gov. Butch Otter about the need for new budget cuts, but have issued a statement calling for “responsible, targeted cuts that protect critical services to middle-class Idaho families.” House Minority Leader Wendy Jaquet, D-Ketchum, and Senate Minority Leader...

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'Maybe a bad time to say it'

As he closed his press conference this morning after announcing new state budget cuts, Gov. Butch Otter said, “Thank you all very much for being here this morning.” And then he added, with a rueful chuckle, “Maybe this is a bad time to say it,...

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Announce cuts, then celebrate?

The timing just worked out that way – Gov. Butch Otter will be announcing new state budget cuts today at an 11 a.m. press conference, and then at 5:30, the governor and first lady will host a ceremonial tree lighting with singing, cookies, Starbucks coffee,...

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Eye On Boise

News, happenings and more from the Idaho Legislature and the state capital.