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Sunday, November 17, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Eye On Boise

Lawmaker: Sell guv’s mansion, give the money to state parks

Rep. Grant Burgoyne, D-Boise, is working on legislation to sell Idaho's official governor's mansion, the former Simplot home atop a grassy Boise hilltop, and turn over both the proceeds and the current balance in the governor's residence fund to Idaho's state parks. "As generous a gift as this was, since it hasn't proved to be a place that governors want to live and it's costing us money every year, with the budget problems that we're having, we need to be looking to economize," Burgoyne said. "This needs to be part of that." Burgoyne said the state is spending $100,000 a year just to keep up the place. "We just need to cut back and admit that this was an experiment that didn't work," he said.

No Idaho governor has ever decided to live in the mansion, which still awaits a big remodel for which private fundraising has fallen short; it's the former home of the late J.R. Simplot, current Gov. Butch Otter's ex-father-in-law. Before the Simplot home was donated to the state in 2004, Idaho had been without a governor's mansion for years, and had instead paid a stipend to governors from the housing fund to offset their housing costs. Otter lives on his ranch in Star, the same place he lived before he became governor.

Burgoyne said he's hoping to present his legislation to the House State Affairs Committee for consideration. If Idaho decides to sells the mansion, the J.R. Simplot Co. has first right of refusal, and can take the home back without charge if the state can't sell it for more than $2.1 million.

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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