January 7, 2011

Otter says he’ll make cuts ‘standard practice’

By The Spokesman-Review
Betsy Russell photo

Idaho Gov. Butch Otter waves to the crowd after taking the oath of office at Friday’s inaugural ceremonies; all state elected constitutional officials took oaths at the ceremony.
(Full-size photo)

BOISE - Idaho Gov. Butch Otter pledged Friday to turn the emergency measures the state has taken to cope with a huge economic downturn into “standard operating practices” for his administration, as he started a second four-year term leading the state.

Otter’s inaugural address, given amid hoopla, booming cannons and an A-10 jet flyover on the state Capitol steps, lauded accomplishments from resolving a long dispute over field-burning to establishing a broadband network to link Idaho high schools. But, he said, “Americans have a renewed appreciation for fiscal caution and the virtue of frugality, in government and in their personal lives.”

He said over the next four years, “You will see that what started as emergency measures taken in response to the great recession’s impact on Idaho become standard operating practices of our state government, permanent changes in how we have done business, aimed at leaving a smaller, better defined and more constructive imprint on our people’s lives.”

Otter will detail more of his plans when he addresses a joint session of the Idaho Legislature on Monday, kicking off this year’s legislative session and unveiling his agenda for coping with a serious state budget shortfall. He offered no balm for lawmakers or other Idahoans concerned about possible cuts in state services from education to health care.

“Frugality in the public sector should not be seen as cruel or careless, but rather as necessary to maintaining our economic and personal liberties,” Otter declared.

Friday’s formal inaugural ceremonies launched new terms for Otter and for all the state’s constitutional officers, including Attorney General Lawrence Wasden ,whose swearing-in set a record: He’s now the longest-serving attorney general in state history. Wasden is starting his third four-year term.

The 25th Army Band of the Idaho National Guard played for the festivities, and a local high school choir sang. Though several hundred people gathered for the event, the crowd was light.

A handful of protesters held signs at the back; most of were family members of Pro-Life, the frequent Idaho candidate for office who formally changed his name to the slogan; he held a large sign saying, “Abortion is murder,” while his wife and children protested “unjust war” and Chinese corporations. A Caldwell woman held two protest signs saying, “Recall Otter Now” and “Free Trade is Marxist.”

Four former Idaho governors participated in the ceremony: Former Govs. Jim Risch, Dirk Kempthorne, Phil Batt and Cecil Andrus.

Administering the oaths of office for Otter, 68, and the other state officials was Idaho Supreme Court Chief Justice Daniel Eismann.

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