Highlights of Gov. Phil Batt’s proposals in his State of the State address delivered to the opening session of the 53rd Legislature.
A cut in property taxes of $40 million statewide augmented by state payment of catastrophic health bills that counties have been paying for the poor and caps on the future growth of both property taxes and property valuations.
An increase in highway user fees like the fuel tax, which have not kept pace with the cost of building and maintaining Idaho’s highways.
Possible payoff of outstanding construction bonds with cash from the existing surplus.
Elimination of the ability of state employees to bank unused sick leave and vacation for liquidation upon retirement.
A return to legislative sessions every other year with only special sessions or a short budget session in the off-years.
Tighter controls over the use of substitutes by state legislators.
Removal of state legislators, part-time workers, members of boards and commissions and non-protected state employees like department directors from the relatively lucrative state pension system, giving them instead the equivalent of an individual retirement account to which the state would contribute.
Making it easier for local governments to drop out of the state retirement system.
Vetoes of so-called omnibus bills that include a wide range of items that individually would not win majority support from lawmakers, but when combined can be passed.
Repeal of protected employee status for managerial and policy-making jobs in state government.
Curtailment of state agency public relations and public promotion operations.
Privatization of some state operations with an accompanying reduction of state employees.
Merger of the Finance and Insurance departments.
Welfare reform that focuses on keeping families together.
Tougher handling of what Batt called young thugs who terrorize society, including additional juvenile detention facilities and state prison cells.
A special task force charged with finding economic savings in the public school system.
Continuation of the drive to bring technology to Idaho classrooms.
Consider merging the state’s three universities into a single-university system.
Opposition to the Northwest Power Planning Council’s support of a plan to draw down eastern Washington reservoirs to help restore salmon runs.
Reassertion of legislative control over the Snake River Basin Water Rights adjudication or the possible end of the multimillion-dollar process.
Discussions with officials of the U.S. Navy on their request to ship additional nuclear waste to the Idaho National Engineering Laboratory. A meeting is scheduled Thursday. Batt said he believes INEL is capable of handling the radioactive material safely, but will resist Idaho becoming a patsy for federal waste cleanup.
Elimination of regulations that adversely affect resource
industries and other components of the economy while providing no legitimate environmental or consumer benefit.
A commitment to extend Idaho’s economic prosperity to the state’s Indian reservations, promising to meet with tribal leaders on ways to stimulate business opportunities.
Worker’s Compensation coverage for agricultural workers.
SUPPORT FOR FEDERAL ACTIONS
Logging of fire- and insect-damaged timber on national forests.
Modifications in the Endangered Species Act to put human impacts on an equal footing with animal and plant impacts.
Requirements for the federal government to pay its share of fees in the Snake River Basin Water Rights adjudication.
Elimination of unfunded federal mandates on state and local governments.