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Eye On Boise

Otter defends health benefit cut for part-time state workers

Gov. Butch Otter is defending a move to sharply increase health insurance costs for part-time state employees, even though some will face premiums that exceed their take-home pay. "This is the same thing the city of Boise does, the University of Idaho does, every company in the private sector that I know of, does the very same thing," Otter said Wednesday. "If you're a part-time employee, you receive part-time benefits. So I say we're being competitive with the marketplace."

Since he became governor, Otter has been pushing to raise state workers' pay while cutting benefits, to make their compensation more like the private sector. But the state's economic downturn has put the brakes on any pay increases; rather than raises, state workers these days are seeing furloughs and other cutbacks. Nevertheless, Otter's director of administration, Mike Gwartney, is pushing forward with the benefits change for part-time employees, effective Nov. 1. Those who can't afford the new premiums can drop health insurance. The House and Senate Democratic caucuses sent a letter to Otter this week formally requesting the governor to delay the move, but he said Wednesday that he won't. You can read my full story here at

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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