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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Eye On Boise

Otter: ‘We’ve had to make some tough decisions’

Gov. Otter was asked how he squares his promise to make Idaho's government more efficient and customer-focused with the closing of local Health & Welfare offices, the fumbling of paperwork that cost Idaho farmers millions in disaster aid, and other flubs. Otter responded that when he took office, "We had about a $130 million surplus in our budget, we had 2.7 percent unemployment. This last two years things have gotten a little tough and we've had to make some tough decisions." On the farm disaster paperwork, he said, "You're absolutely right. ... We lost that paperwork for a week and that was the last week that we could actually apply for that. So mea culpa, that was our fault. But the $10 million is a stretch. I would agree that there was some loss, no question about it. ... We made three different attempts with Vilsack asking for a federal waiver ... then I got the delegation involved, they asked for some consideration and a waiver, and we got neither."

Jana Kemp said, "The key is that in the governor's office, all communication must be managed effectively. Without that, things fall through the cracks. ... The pattern must come to an end. If you want to keep living in the past and mistakes that have been made, you know how to vote."

Keith Allred said, "Butch Otter wants to blame all of his administration's problems on the economy and other external circumstances. The one thing that tells you is don't expect any better performance in the next four years - he thinks the performance of his administration has been fine." Allred said it "wasn't the economy" that caused the state's Health & Welfare billing snafu that left providers unpaid for months, that threatened to kick hundreds of dentists off the state's Medicaid contract, or made an error with the disaster aid. "We need a governor who can do his homework and get his facts right," Allred said.

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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