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Eye On Boise

Citizens’ budget ideas rolling in

Carmen Achabal, an Idaho Department of Labor employee who's organizing citizen responses for the state's Division of Financial Management, discusses the 217 received so far to Gov. Butch Otter's call for money-saving ideas as he contemplates state budget cuts. (Betsy Russell)
Carmen Achabal, an Idaho Department of Labor employee who's organizing citizen responses for the state's Division of Financial Management, discusses the 217 received so far to Gov. Butch Otter's call for money-saving ideas as he contemplates state budget cuts. (Betsy Russell)

Gov. Butch Otter's "efficiency" Web site has received 217 money-saving suggestions for state government so far, as of this morning. An initial look shows ideas ranging from cutting the pay of the state's highest-paid employees and elected officials to bringing back time off for good behavior for state prison inmates. A Lewiston man recommended logging the timber on highway rights-of-way, while a Boise man called for decriminalizing and taxing marijuana. Several people suggested consolidating school districts; several pleaded for avoiding cuts to schools. A Coeur d'Alene woman called for reducing the number of months in which studded tires are allowed on roads; "You will save millions$," she wrote. A Salmon man wrote, "If you need to have a wolf hunt, charge $150 for a license, not $11.50." Others called for privatizing some state services; some called for tax hikes, some for tax cuts. Several advocated eliminating Idaho's death penalty. Others honed in on specific items they'd like to see cut, from snacks at government meetings to frequent and close-together school bus stops.

"We knew we were going to get a large response," said Jon Hanian, Otter's press secretary. All responses will be reviewed and, if feasible, considered, he said. "Everything is on the table." Carmen Achabal, a Department of Labor employee who previously managed an employee suggestion program for five years at Weyerhaeuser, is managing and organizing the submissions for review. "You have folks from all over the state that are wanting to give their input, from Sandpoint to St. Anthony," she said. The site continues to accept suggestions.



Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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