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Eye On Boise

Otter on IEN, prison takeover, Medicaid…

Other comments from Gov. Butch Otter at this morning’s AP Legislative Preview:

  • On the Idaho Education Network: “The only problem that we’ve had with the IEN was the contracting process.” He said a recent survey of school districts gave the broadband network high marks; however, a court has ruled the state issued the $60 million contract for the service illegally. Otter said he wants better oversight of big state contracts. He said he’s tried to follow former Gov. Cecil Andrus’ “no surprises” rule, but when it comes to problems with contracts, “Admittedly, I’ve been surprised.”
  • On the state takeover of management of its largest prison from Corrections Corp. of America: Otter said the transition has gone well. “I probably should caution myself from saying this, because I don’t want to give anybody any ideas out there if they read your news, but a lot of the gang activity that we had been experiencing has been reduced. … There are still fistfights, but the 3-on-1 or 4-on-1 gang activity that we had been seeing has been reduced, and ... we hope to keep that going.” He added, “You’ve got 2,000 people out there that are there for a reason, because they’re violent, because they can’t get along within the law.”
  • Several times, Otter declined to answer questions from reporters because said he’ll be addressing those questions in his State of the State address to lawmakers on Monday. Among them: What he thinks of ideas like shifting sales tax proceeds from tires and auto parts to transportation funding; and Medicaid expansion. Otter noted that his Medicaid task force has a report pending, and he’s looking at its recommendations. “In total maybe not, but there are some actionable items in that task force report,” he said, “and I’m going to continue keeping my promise of 2011 to the Legislature that I would not make a unilateral decision on either the insurance exchange or Medicaid expansion. So that report’s got a lot of stuff in it, good stuff, and I say again, actionable items, good ideas.”
  • Asked if repealing the sales tax on groceries is a 2015 priority of the Otter Administration, the governor said, "No, no on the grocery tax."

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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