BOISE – Idaho Gov. Butch Otter on Friday issued his first and only veto of this year’s legislative session, invoking his line-item veto power to nix an $1,800 appropriation for a 1.5 percent raise for the governor next year.
“While I appreciate the Legislature’s intentions in approving a pay increase for the governor, it is not my desire to accept this increase in the context of having not recommended a similar change in compensation for our valued state employees,” Otter wrote in his veto message.
Otter recommended zero raises for state employees next year; the Legislature instead approved merit raises to average 2 percent, with half of that permanent, and half as a one-time bonus. Separately, lawmakers passed legislation to grant raises to all top state elected officials, mostly 1.5 percent per year for the next four years; the state Constitution prohibits giving those officials raises during their terms, so that issue can only be considered once every four years, prior to the election.
Otter’s veto message seems to assume his re-election – that he’ll be the one receiving the governor’s salary next year. Mark Warbis, Otter’s communications director, said, “He’s not assuming anything, but he has to act under the conditions he has before him. He’s the only governor we have right now.”
Otter said he also plans to donate $1,800 from his office’s budget to Bishop Kelly High School, his alma mater, next year, and called on other top state elected officials to consider similar donations “to the educational institutions of their choice” in lieu of their raises. Bishop Kelly, formerly St. Theresa’s Academy when Otter attended, is a Catholic school in Boise.