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Eye On Boise archive for Jan. 1, 2009

TUESDAY, JAN. 13, 2009

'Less money to squabble about'

When Gov. Butch Otter's office was asked for a comment late Tuesday on the spat that developed between the governor and lawmakers over replacement of lawmakers' laptop computers, Jon Hanian, spokesman for Otter, said, "Our take is there's gonna be these moments - hopefully fewer…

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State union: 'Not a single word'

The Idaho Association of Government Employees, which represents some state workers, is upset that Gov. Butch Otter didn't talk about state employees in his annual State of the State message - though state worker pay has been a major theme for him in past years.…

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CdA Tribe: 'We're disappointed'

Marc Stewart, spokesman for the Coeur d'Alene Tribe, said the tribe is concerned about Gov. Butch Otter's proposal to drop state funding for Old Mission State Park. "The tribe is disappointed in the decision, and it's really too bad that the budget crisis is going…

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Siddoway gets JFAC seat

The Senate has finished its reshuffling of committee assignments now that Sen. Russ Fulcher is in leadership (majority caucus chair), and Fulcher's former seat on the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee has gone to Sen. Jeff Siddoway, R-Terreton. Siddoway's former seat on the Senate Local Government &…

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Senate Assistant Minority Leader Kate Kelly, left, and House Minority Leader John Rusche, right, respond to Gov. Butch Otter's State of the State message, 1/13/09. (Betsy Russell / The Spokesman-Review)

Dems fault Otter's priorities

Legislative Democrats are faulting Gov. Butch Otter's priorities, saying he shouldn't be cutting education and other essential state services while leaving hundreds of millions in state rainy-day funds. "Our tax dollars created these rainy-day funds; they're there for a purpose," said House Minority Leader John…

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'Probably should have overridden' 

Senate Finance Chairman Dean Cameron, R-Rupert, says Gov. Butch Otter's line-item veto last year of funds for a legislative computer upgrade was in retaliation for a legislative trim in a DFM budget item. "The governor didn't like it, because there's a long history," Cameron said,…

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'Some of us have a more pessimistic view'

Rep. Fred Wood, R-Burley, told Gov. Butch Otter's budget chief, Wayne Hammon, that "some of us have a more pessimistic view" than the adminstration on how state revenues will fare, and said he hopes the governor will work with them. Hammon responded that the governor's…

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First clash between guv and JFAC

The generally friendly Wayne Hammon, Gov. Butch Otter's budget chief, delivered a threat from the governor to lawmakers as he was detailing the governor's budget proposal this morning: Otter opposes a $142,000 appropriation to the Legislative Council for laptop computers for the legislative branch -…

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Wayne Hammon, Gov. Butch Otter's budget chief, addresses lawmakers on the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee, 1/13/09 (Betsy Russell / The Spokesman-Review)

The revenue figures

Gov. Butch Otter's Division of Financial Management is forecasting that state tax revenues for the current year, fiscal year 2009, will come in 9.5 percent down from the previous year. Then, from that lowered level, DFM is predicting a 1 percent growth in revenue the…

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Legislative Budget Director Cathy Holland-Smith briefs the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee at its first meeting, as the Idaho legislative session gets under way. 1/13/09 (Betsy Russell / The Spokesman-Review)

Now it's the Legislature's turn

Here's a link to my full story in today's Spokesman-Review on Gov. Butch Otter's State of the State message, with its historic proposal for a cut in public school funding. This morning, the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee is holding its first meeting, and will examine the…

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MONDAY, JAN. 12, 2009

Sen. Russ Fulcher, R-Meridian, won a two-way race for Senate majority caucus chairman on Monday. 1/12/09 (Betsy Russell / The Spokesman-Review)

Fulcher wins leadership post

Sen. Russ Fulcher, R-Meridian, has won former Sen. Brad Little's leadership post as Senate majority caucus chairman, in a two-way race against Sen. Jim Hammond, R-Post Falls. "It's always an honor when your peers choose you, so I'm very honored," Fulcher said. "However, the attitude…

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Luna: 'Education will receive less money'

State Superintendent of Schools Tom Luna said after Gov. Otter's State of the State message, "There's no doubt that education is going to receive less money than they got this year. No one is happy about that, but it's the situation that we're in." Asked…

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Rep. James Ruchti, D-Pocatello, and Gov. Butch Otter engage in an impromptu debate about state funding priorities after Otter's State of the State speech, 1/12/09. (Betsy Russell / The Spokesman-Review)

An impromptu debate

As Gov. Butch Otter left his State of the State speech, after talking with the media, he got into an impromptu debate with House Democratic leaders over his budget proposal. First, House Assistant Minority Leader James Ruchti, D-Pocatello, said with Idaho families struggling, "This is…

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Gov. Butch Otter addresses the press after his State of the State speech, 1/12/09 (Betsy Russell / The Spokesman-Review)

Otter's third State of the State 

A few observations about the governor's speech: It was a somber speech, rarely interrupted by applause (only five times in the 45-minute speech). And the venue forced a rather unusual atmosphere at the after-speech scrum, when Otter usually is surrounded by reporters and TV cameras…

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Otter: We do care

The governor closed his State of the State speech with an unscripted moment, recalling a mother of an autistic child who came to one of his Capitol for a Day meetings in despair over state cuts in her child's treatment hours. Otter said he was…

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Another way to define 'compassion'

Gov. Butch Otter told lawmakers, "I know that you share my administration's goals of promoting responsible government, enhancing economic opportunity, and empowering Idahoans. I know that you are as devoted as I am to advancing those goals decisively - with certainty - but also with…

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Otter touts Winter Games

The upcoming Special Olympics in Idaho "will include more athletes and participating nations than the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City," Gov. Otter just told lawmakers. "The World Winter Games will be the largest multi-day winter sporting event ever held in our state." The…

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'Talk about going the extra mile'

While touting a program pushed by a committee of health care experts he appointed to offer affordable private-sector health insurance plans to Idahoans aged 25 to 40, the group most likely to be uninsured in Idaho, the governor said the committee's chairman, Stephen Weeg, headed…

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Guv proposes Ed Board shakeup

It won him his third round of applause - Gov. Butch Otter has just proposed a "comprehensive plan for reorganizing our education policy and governance system on the state level." That means, he said, that the State Board of Education should no longer be involved…

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Second applause line

Gov. Otter said of his transportation proposal, "Six months of listening to the Idahoans who hired us tells me that this conservative, measured and phased-in approach will work. ... I can tell you that we are shirking our responsibility and ignoring the facts if we…

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Where he'd get the money

Idaho's governor is proposing a 2-cent per gallon increase in the state's fuel tax each year for five years, resulting in a 10-cent increase in the tax in five years to 35 cents per gallon. The first year, that'd bring in about $17.6 million. After…

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Transportation plan: Three points

Gov. Otter told lawmakers that his transportation proposal "boils down to three points": Accountability and efficiency, generating new revenue, and a task force to study inequities in Idaho's truck registration system. "No amount of efficiency - however important - will make up for the hard…

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It's cut less than the rest

Gov. Butch Otter noted, "The $1 billion, 425 million I'm proposing for K-12 education next year still represents almost half our total general fund budget. And the fact is that my proposed public schools budget is reduced FAR less than I'm recommending for other state…

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