Otter debates two challengers
Criticism of governor cites dental care, education cuts
CALDWELL, Idaho – Cuts to dental programs for the poor became a surprise flashpoint of Wednesday evening’s debate between Republican Gov. Butch Otter and Democrat Keith Allred, as they went tooth to tooth over austerity measures aimed at saving Idaho money.
About 150 dentists have been cut from a program that provides dental services to Medicaid recipients.
Otter said dentists who were cut were providing too many services and costing the state too much money. He said he thinks the state did its best at trimming those ranks.
Allred told the crowd at Caldwell’s College of Idaho that Otter blindsided dentists by not communicating, insisting the governor “flat didn’t talk to dentists.” Allred said this characterized the governor’s approach: Consulting only a narrow group, without seeking broad support, for deep-reaching policy decisions.
Wednesday’s debate, sponsored by KTVB-TV, was the third ahead of the Nov. 2 election.
This time, Otter and Allred were joined by independent candidate Jana Kemp, a former GOP state legislator who is running without a party label.
Kemp said voters should choose her because she’s not taking money from special interests or political action committees, so she answers only to voters.
Otter and Allred sparred over $1.75 billion worth of tax breaks that some industries or groups have won since the Idaho sales tax was passed 45 years ago.
If Allred gets his way, the state would scrutinize virtually all of them, then repeal the ones voters agreed were no longer necessary.
Otter insists they were all passed with sound economic judgment by legislators and that repealing them is tantamount to a tax hike for those that now benefit. Otter also discounted Allred’s promise not to cut education again in fiscal year 2012 after this year’s 7.5 percent, $128 million cut.
© Copyright 2010 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.