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Eye On Boise

Otter: Transportation funding is ‘elephant in the room’

Gov. Butch Otter told lawmakers, “The biggest of the big-ticket items in our infrastructure inventory is our long-term, multibillion-dollar investment in Idaho’s roads and bridges. And if ‘Idaho Learns’ means anything at all, it’s time for us to address that elephant in the room.”

“The maintenance backlog we already have makes it even more important to figure out now how to pay for the hundreds of millions of dollars in improvements needed to protect Idaho lives and corridors of commerce,” he said. “Ladies and gentlemen, we know that after education, investing in infrastructure is among the smartest, most cost-effective and frankly essential uses of taxpayer dollars to promote the public’s general welfare and sustain economic growth.”

He said, “There is something to be said for the old adage about being ‘penny wise and pound foolish.’ In fact, every dollar we invest now in our roads and bridges will save motorists and taxpayers $6 to $14 later.” But Otter said he’s not proposing specific legislation.

“Chairmen Brackett and Palmer, legislative leaders, I am not going to stand here and tell you how to swallow this elephant,” Otter declared. “That would be contrary to all we have learned about each other and the people we serve in recent years. But we all know it must be done. I welcome financially responsible legislation that addresses steady, ongoing and sustainable transportation infrastructure in Idaho; however, I will NOT entertain proposals aimed at competing for General Fund tax dollars with education and our other required public programs or services.” That line drew applause from the assembled lawmakers.



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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