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Eye On Boise archive for Nov. 2009

WEDNESDAY, NOV. 18, 2009

Idaho unemployment notches up again

Idaho's unemployment rate has notched up again, this time by a tenth of a percentage point to 9 percent, the highest since June of 1983. The U.S. Department of Labor today revised Idaho's October rate up from the Nov. 6 forecast, based on additional data;…

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Sali says he still hasn't decided 

While strolling across downtown Boise in the crisp fall sunshine a few minutes ago, I ran into none other than former Idaho Congressman Bill Sali. Of course, I had to ask him: Is he running again for his old seat in Idaho's 1st District? "Stay…

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Otter on budget cuts, taxes... 

Click below to read the memo Gov. Butch Otter sent to state agencies last week asking them to further trim spending and limit all "non-essential activities wherever possible." In his luncheon talk to the Associated Taxpayers today, Otter said, "Folks, we are going to have…

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Coeur d'Alene City Councilman Mike Kennedy addresses the Associated Taxpayers of Idaho conference on Wednesday in Boise (Betsy Russell)

One revenue bright spot... 

Two local government officials, Bannock County Commissioner Steve Hadley and Coeur d'Alene City Councilman Mike Kennedy, are sharing their communities' budget challenges with the Associated Taxpayers conference. Kennedy said Coeur d'Alene's budget outlook is a difficult one, but there is one revenue source - income…

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'Transformational' education strategy unveiled 

Gov. Butch Otter and state Superintendent of Schools Tom Luna joined business leaders and others at a press conference today to announce a new, broad education strategy for the state, focusing on getting more Idaho kids to go on to post-secondary education, high standards and…

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'Buy Idaho' capitol dispute resolved

Here's a news item from AP: BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A group that promotes homegrown Idaho products and services will get to spread out in the recently renovated Capitol, after all. The Capitol Commission, which oversees the building, had passed guidelines restricting public events to…

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Cuts will necessarily hit state employees

Budget cuts mean hits on state employees, legislative budget director Cathy Holland-Smith told the ATI conference. "Most of our costs are in personnel ... and you can't avoid that," she said. So when the state makes budget cuts, "You're either reducing people's pay, you're furloughing…

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Otter dropping NGA membership 

Among the budget cuts on which Gov. Butch Otter already has decided: He'll be the only governor next year who won't be a member of the National Governors Association, his budget chief, Wayne Hammon, just told the ATI conference. "It just costs too much money,"…

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Fulcher: 'Violently agree'

Sen. Russ Fulcher, R-Meridian, said he has to "violently agree" with Rep. James Ruchti, D-Pocatello, that Idaho can't just "play defense" in its budget cuts, and must focus on job creation. "That's what's going to dig us out of this hole," Fulcher said.

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Rep. James Ruchti, D-Pocatello (Betsy Russell)

Ruchti: 'We can't just play defense'

Rep. James Ruchti, D-Pocatello, the House assistant minority leader, said tax cuts in recent years have helped put the state in the revenue crunch it's in right now. "There's millions of tax revenue dollars that we don't have now that we desperately need," Ruchti told…

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Idaho Sen. Russ Fulcher, R-Meridian (Betsy Russell)

Fulcher: 'We will make someone mad' 

Sen. Russ Fulcher, R-Meridian, the Senate majority caucus chairman, told the ATI conference just now that lawmakers this year will be looking at difficult budget cuts in the very areas where people most don't want them - education and health services. "Everything is on the…

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Suggestions rolling in from Idahoans... 

Gov. Butch Otter's "efficiency" Web site, which asks Idahoans for their ideas on how the state can save money, has received 112 suggestions as of this morning, according to Otter's press secretary, Jon Hanian. "We know people have a lot of ideas and opinions about…

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TUESDAY, NOV. 17, 2009

Idaho settles grazing lease lawsuit

Here’s a news item from the Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Idaho has agreed to pay $50,000 and pledged to follow anti-discrimination rules to settle a federal lawsuit against state officials who awarded grazing leases to ranchers, not the environmentalist who had offered more…

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Minnick unveils job-training bill

Idaho Congressman Walt Minnick today unveiled job-training legislation he said he's been crafting for the past eight months. The measure, H.R. 4072, entitled the American Manufacturing Efficiency and Retraining Investment Collaboration (AMERICA) Works Act, would route federal workforce training funds toward programs that provide "nationally…

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MONDAY, NOV. 16, 2009

Fired Idaho Transportation Director Pam Lowe is suing the state for wrongful termination, charging sex discrimination, political pressure and more. (Betsy Russell)

Pam Lowe files sex-bias suit against state 

Idaho's first-ever female transportation director was fired, in part, simply for being a woman, a lawsuit filed today charges. Pam Lowe, who last week filed a "whistleblower" complaint against the state alleging that she was fired for resisting political pressure to favor a big campaign…

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Wasden: Idahoans could share in Vonage settlement

Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden says Idahoans who had trouble canceling their Vonage Voice Over Internet Protocol service may be eligible for refunds, as part of a new multistate legal settlement. Consumers with unresolved complaints dating back to January 2004 may be eligible; they must…

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How to cope with budget crunch...

Here's a link to my full story from Saturday's Spokesman-Review on the latest on Idaho's state budget crunch, from Gov. Butch Otter appealing for money-saving ideas from citizens to Moscow Democratic Rep. Shirley Ringo's proposal for a 5 percent income tax surcharge to stave off…

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FRIDAY, NOV. 13, 2009

Otter: Need public's help on budget cuts 

Gov. Butch Otter today launched an "efficiency" Web site aimed at laying out the state's budget and soliciting money-saving ideas from citizens. "We need your help. Government does not have a monopoly on good ideas," Otter wrote in the site's introduction. "There are hundreds of…

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The 90 days has run out... 

When fired ITD Director Pam Lowe filed her initial lawsuit against the state, contending she was fired in part for resisting political pressure against cutting a contract with a big campaign donor to Gov. Butch Otter, there were still a few days left for the…

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THURSDAY, NOV. 12, 2009

The cost of plastic... 

For Idaho restaurant owner Kevin Settles, the fees that credit card companies charge for every transaction are outrageous - 2 to 2.5 percent off the top, in a business where the average profit margin is 3 to 5 percent. "It's almost equal to my utility…

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Eye On Boise

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