Idaho Gov. Butch Otter launched his third television campaign ad in southern Idaho over the weekend; focusing largely on education. It is scheduled to go statewide on Tuesday, including the Spokane broadcast TV market. Here’s a look at the ad and its claims:
WHAT IT SAYS: “We’ve made Idaho one of America’s best places to start a small business. And we’re also making it a great state to get a good education. We got $35 million dollars back in the classroom. And we put broadband into every high school. And now I have a 20-point education plan that will fund additional technology and reinvest in our teachers so they’re amongst the best in the nation. Great jobs, great schools. I’m working hard to build a brighter future.”
Narrator: “Butch Otter, governor.”
THE CLAIMS: The claim about being one of the best places to start a small business is a repeat from one of Otter’s earlier commercials, and is based on a Governing Magazine survey of small business owners, in which Idaho was one of three states getting an “A-plus.”
The $35 million claim refers to Otter’s proposal this year – which the Legislature approved as part of the public school budget – to restore $35 million of the $82 million in operating funds that were cut from Idaho’s schools during the recession. “I have committed to replenish classroom dollars and we are poised to continue building on this year’s $35 million investment,” Otter said in a statement today. Otter’s Task Force on Improving Education made 20 recommendations, including a new, more generous teacher pay system tied to a “career ladder” and a new tiered licensing system; improving school technology; and restoring the $82 million in cuts.
Otter launched the Idaho Education Network to bring broadband to every Idaho high school; the state’s contract award to Education Networks of America and CenturyLink, however, has been challenged in court, prompting the federal government to withhold millions in funding for the broadband network that the state has had to replace from its general fund to keep the network operating at Idaho high schools.
“It’s one of the state’s most popular politicians doing his own ad,” said Jim Weatherby, longtime observer of Idaho politics and emeritus professor at Boise State University. “I think that’s effective. Some speculate we have ‘Otter fatigue,’ and maybe that’s true, but I still think he’s a pretty effective spokesperson for his campaign.”
Online: You can watch the ad here.