Visit by U. S. Air Force Chief of Staff General Mark A. Welsh III
May 2, 2014
Here are a few audio clips recorded today (5/2/14) in Boise at the Idaho Division of Aeronautics where the Governor was joined by members of the Idaho congressional delegation and Boise Mayor Dave Bieter after the group of leaders meet with General Mark A. Welsh III, the U. S. Air Force Chief of Staff.
General Welsh toured Mountain Home Air Force Base and Gowen Field as the Pentagon considers changing the mission and co-locating resources at the two military facilities. Governor Otter has expressed serious concerns about the Obama administration’s plans to soon eliminate the A-10 Thunderbolt from the U.S. Air Force inventory. Governor Otter says he thinks the meeting was productive.
“From my aspect I thought it was a good meeting, I thought it was a meeting that, as I said earlier, tells me that we still have some work to do, and work we will.”
Governor Otter said he and others used the occasion to pitch the idea that when the A-10 is eventually retired from service, Gowen Field would be an ideal base for a new flying mission given its close proximity to the Saylor Creek training range.
“We went through all of that, we vetted that when we were after the F-35. And as you know we ended up very, very high both in mission for Gowen Field and mission for Mountain Home. In fact, we were in the top five on both. And so taking all of those credits and all of those assets that they counted up then and how important they were to mission critical, we were allowed to elaborate that today.”
The Governor also said that while the A-10 has been a valuable military asset he understands and is hopeful it will eventually be replaced - - here in Idaho - - by something better.
“Never has anybody left any question in my mind about the A-10 platform. And whether or not it was going to go away or not. There has never been a question in my mind that it’s going to go away. The question is when, and I think I felt today like we got a little more breathing room so we got a little more time to convince those folks that as good as that A-10 mission was in Gowen Field, an F-15 or an F-35 mission would also be welcomed with open arms.”
The Governor was joined at the press conference by, Senators Mike Crapo and Jim Risch, Congressman Raul Labrador, Lt. Governor Brad Little and and Boise Mayor Dave Bieter.
Governor Otter's Sine Die Press Conference
March 21, 2014
These are a few selected audio clips recorded in the Governors Ceremonial Office at Sine Die on Friday March 21, 2014.
On March 21st Governor C. L. “Butch” Otter thanked a bipartisan group of legislative leaders for their commitment and the hard work during the 2014 session of the Idaho Legislature. At a media availability after the Legislature adjourned “sine die,” Governor Otter addressed some of the important issues debated during the session.
After his opening remarks, the Governor opened the floor to questions from the media. One question was about providing more tax relief in the future.
“Once again, that depends upon what the economy is going to do. We are spending – our expenditures right now – we are a little higher than I had planned, but still below our expected growth of 6.4 percent. We see the unemployment continuing to go down, entry level jobs continuing to grow, and as those jobs mature – as those companies mature – then the economy is going to mature. In fact we expect $62.5 billion this year to be our economy, starting the year at $60 billion.”
Governor Otter also talked about implementing the first phase of the recommendations of his Education Task Force. The Governor reaffirmed his commitment to a multi-year approach to fully funding those recommendations.
“How fast can we get to the total expenditure that we expect of $350 million on the task force? I think that’s a question for us to view in the future. Which is why we said we are going to put year one in ink – it’s now in ink – and the next four years in pencil so that we can make those adjustments as our expectations are met, and if they are not met then we are going to have to make some adjustments.”
On the issue of Medicaid expansion, Governor Otter stressed the importance of reviewing what other states are doing before adopting any major changes in Idaho.
“In the last three months there’s been some terrific ideas that have come out of Florida, out Kansas, out of Arkansas, out of Iowa, out of Indiana, that change the total picture of what the potential daily risk and what the potential cost is of Medicaid expansion, and there is no reason for us to rush in with a bad product as a result of an anemic process.”
Senate President Pro Tem Brent Hill applauded the Governor’s approach of keeping government spending well below the state’s projected economic growth rate.
“ The Governor has been very clear all along that we are not going to grow government as fast as the economy grows, and so as the economy grows and as we help fund education and other things we hope there will be some extra funds there available to also provide some tax relief in the future.”
The 2014 session lasted 74 days and resulted in 355 bills reaching the Governor’s desk.
Governor Otter Attends the Idaho Association of Counties' Midwinter Legislative Conference
February 5, 2014
Here are a few selected audio clips recorded at the Riverside Hotel on February 5, 2014.
Yesterday Governor C. L. “Butch” Otter attended at the Idaho association of Counties Midwinter Legislative Conference. At the event the Governor spoke to county officials from all over the state regarding the inception and development of his “Project 60” economic program.
“In ’08 I put together a program called Project 60. And Project 60 was an effort to raise our economic activity in the state from the $51-and-a-half billion - where it was in ’07 - to grow to $60 billion. The reasoning was that if we used the same level of taxation - whether it was sales tax, income tax, or corporate tax - if we used that same level we would actually increase the revenue stream pretty close to $800 million which would give us the necessary funds. But at the same time it would also give us the opportunity to lower some of our taxes, giving us a more inviting environment for businesses that look at the cost of business relative to the cost of government and the regulation of government.”
He also explained the forthcoming “Accelerate Idaho” which is designed to provide immediate feedback for small companies from government agencies.
“You will be hearing about Accelerate Idaho, and what that basically is, is we put together - once again - a group of folks, not unlike what we did with Project 60 - but this is a rapid strike team. If a company comes into your county from out of state or a company in your county wants to grow and we say ‘we don’t know - what’s the future of whatever?’, well we put five agencies- six agencies together, and their job is to each appoint a person. You have a company that comes into your county, those six people show up and say ‘What do you need from transportation? What do you need from the Department of Commerce? The Department of Agriculture? Water Resources?’ so those folks can know that we are going to move at the speed of business in Idaho at every opportunity that we get.”
Governor Otter also took the opportunity to stress the importance of providing companies with a well-educated workforce as well as encouraged the expansion of higher education facilities throughout the State to ensure Idaho’s competitiveness and prosperity.
“As we all know every company that comes in - every company that wants to expand - all want to talk about workforce. And a well-educated work force is probably one of the most important things that every business that wants to grow, wants to expand, or wants to move into the state is going to talk to us about.”
Before the end of the conference Governor Otter also addressed the importance of supporting behavioral health crisis centers and developing behavioral health support programs to reduce the cost for such programs at local levels. This would also allow for more treatment of the disease and not just the symptoms of these issues and keep individuals with behavioral health or substance abuse problems out of the emergency rooms or jails.
“As we put those models in place, work those programs, and see the success then we will want to expand those because we have already witnessed in other programs - around the United States - similar to this, a great deal of reduction in the cost of dealing with either behavioral health, or addiction, or mental health problems at the local level.”
Governor Otter Presents Tracked Wheel Chair to Disabled Veteran
January 22, 2014
Here a few selected audio clips recorded in the Capitol on January 22, 2014.
Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter today helped present a disabled veteran of the war in Iraq with a new “tracked” wheel chair. The chair will allow Andrew Pike of Twin Falls to traverse difficult terrain, and stand up from his chair to hunt. Governor Otter, Andrew’s family, and other state officials surprised Andrew with the 400 pound specialized chair during what was supposed to be an impromptu tour of the Capitol lead by the Governor. Governor Otter explained how presenting this chair to Andrew proved to be a moving experience for everyone involved.
“All you’ve got to do is look at this face. All you gotta do is stand beside him when he stood up for the first time in a long time. And he said I am light headed. I am dizzy. Because that supported him and his weight supported everything so he could actually stand on his own feet. So in that way it is very gratifying. It is very heart warming. But in another way, when you see all of these other people that made this happen – because they loved him, because they love his family and they know how much he loves hunting.”
Ketchum resident Bill Potter led a national effort to secure the funding to raise the $19,000 needed to purchase the chair for Andrew. Potter raised the funds through the help of his company, Higher Ground, Sun Valley, and Project Healing Waters.
“We had about 40 individual donors and we used the network of the two organizations to get to those donors.”
Andrew Pike said after the presentation that he was both surprised and humbled by the gift. Afterwards, Pike said he thought he was just going on a tour of the Capitol with the Governor serving as his guide.
“They definitely planned it and put everything together so that I didn’t know what was going on. But then to come in and see the chair and see the possibilities that it gives me in the ability to move freely in the things that I love to do is amazing.”
Pike was shot at close range during his tour of duty in Iraq and was left paralyzed from the waist down. Pike, an avid outdoorsman, says he plans to use the chair to go hunting on his first available opportunity.
Associated Press Legislative Preview
January 3, 2014
Here are a few selected audio clips from Governor Otter that were recorded today (1/03/14) in the House Revenue and Taxation Committee hearing room as the Governor participated in the Associated Press Legislative Preview. The Governor took questions from the media on a wide variety of issues.
At that event, the Governor announced that he has asked the Idaho Board of Correction to shift its focus away from finding a new private contractor to run the Idaho Correctional Center (ICC) to preparing for the Department of Correction to assume operation of the 2,000 bed facility. The Governor indicated that there would still be some “non-custodial” functions that might be privatized in the prison, but that day-to-day operations should revert back to the state of Idaho.
“The priority however, is to engage in a management plan where we will be able to take over by June 30th.”
ICC has been privately operated since it opened in 2000. The Idaho Department of Correction has been working to resolve financial issues surrounding staffing records at the prison, which houses almost one-quarter of Idaho’s total State inmate population. Based on the level of judicial oversight and after reviewing the totality of circumstances there, Governor Otter says the state was left with only one option – to assume management of the facility.
“Let me say there was a very healthy vote in favor of the core standards when the Legislature addressed the issue. And I believe it was the right thing to do. I believe we do have to be able to measure ourselves against the education that students are getting around the United States so that we can compete in the economy and in the real world.”
The Governor was also joined by Senator Patti-Ann Lodge and Representative Rich Wills – chairs of the Senate and House Judiciary committees – to encourage legislative support for the Justice Reinvestment effort, which seeks to reduce recidivism in state prisons, hold down the growth of Idaho’s prison population and save taxpayers money. Senator Lodge says this effort should also improve long-term public safety.
“It is disappointing but I think it is also recognizing what has been happening. What has happened, it is necessary. I think it is the right thing to do.”
The Governor also said that going into the 2014 legislative session, education would be his top priority. During the hour-long give and take with media he also reaffirmed his support for Idaho Core Standards which he pointed out was supported by a large, bipartisan cross section of the Idaho Legislature.
“Our first priority in this whole project has been public safety. We want to make sure that our public is safe. But yet these individuals who have made mistakes do not come out with more criminal behavior.”
The Governor will lay out his entire legislative agenda before a joint session of the Idaho Legislature on Monday, January 6th at 1:00 p.m.
Bureau of Homeland Security Schools Safety Exercise
August 21, 2013
Here are a few selected audio clips recorded in Burley, Idaho today (08/21/13) at Burley High School, where the Governor and a number of other state and local officials oversaw a full-scale exercise to determine how Idaho schools handle a situation involving an unstable and violent individual within the Idaho public school system. The exercise was organized and evaluated by the Bureau of Homeland Security as part of the Governor’s charge to ensure Idaho schools are equipped and prepared to respond to these kinds of threats.
Governor Otter says the lessons learned in Burley could lead to updated school safety plans all over the state.
“It gives us an opportunity to say if we find any problems in Burley, we need to check that all over the state of Idaho.”
Dr. Gaylen Smyer, Superintendent of the Cassia School District, said afterwards, that the exercise did identify a few problems that they need to take some corrective action to improve. Dr. Smyer says a communication system designed to alert parents, students and staff to a dangerous situation did not function properly during the drill.
“And we had some glitches getting that initiated this morning, and so it will be interesting at the end of the day to see how that worked. We have used it for snow closures and things in the past. But this is the first time we have been able to use it in this capacity in a drill. And so it will provide us some information that we can use and we have to manage that system.”
Governor Otter says those kinds of problems are best discovered in a drill rather than during an actual emergency.
“We can’t decide when somebody wants to commit mayhem and harm in a community. And so, that community has to be ready at any time. Because we can’t plan that. We can plan our defense. We can plan our reaction. We can plan our programs on how we are going to overcome a threat. But we can’t plan the time and the place. We don’t get to pick that.”
The 90-minute exercise involved multiple state and local agencies and was watched by a team of evaluators who will make recommendations on how to improve local preparedness and readiness. They will also try to improve the ability of first responders and school officials to effectively work together during an actual crisis.
Your Health Idaho Website Media Launch
August 20, 2013
Here are few selected audio clips from Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter recorded today in his office as the Idaho Health Insurance Exchange unveiled their new logo and launch of the Web site marketplace, where Idahoans can shop for and compare health insurance plans for coverage set to begin in January 2014.
The new website, YOUR HEALTH IDAHO will give Idahoans the ability to learn more about the tools and resources available through Idaho’s new health insurance marketplace. At today’s media roll out, Amy Dowd, the Idaho Health Insurance Exchange’s executive director said that this site will be uniquely developed for Idaho.
“I promised the Governor that I would always remember that the mission of our exchange was to be designed, driven and controlled by Idahoans for Idahoans. This is something that we have done and will continue to do in the weeks ahead as we prepare for open enrollment and in the years ahead as this marketplace evolves.”
The Governor acknowledged that establishing state control of the insurance exchange was critically important to protecting state’s rights and keeping the federal government out of the lives of our citizens.
“Once again my congratulations and my appreciation goes to the leadership of both the House and the Senate and both sides of the political spectrum for their recognition that this is a responsibility that the rule of law puts on us and we are going to be handling it to the best of our ability.”
The Governor, who remains opposed to Obamacare, has stated previously that he believes it ultimately will fail under its own weight.
“We’re alright with that. I am alright with that. But that does not absolve Idaho from its obligation to make a difference in a medical crisis in the lives of the people of Idaho. So, one of the reasons I wanted to go with a state-based is so that we could design that. We could fashion that. We could tailor that to really what we need in Idaho.”
Your Health Idaho will establish a consumer resource center in Idaho that will be staffed by Idahoans to field questions and help Idaho residents navigate Your Health Idaho via telephone, email, and standard mail.
Wildfire Press Conference
August 16, 2013
Here are a few selected audio clips from Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter as he participated in a press conference at the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise today, August 16, 2013. The Governor was joined by Idaho U. S. Senator Jim Risch and U. S. Forest Service Chief Thomas Tidwell.
The Governor and Forest Service Chief Tidwell received a briefing on the Beaver Creek Complex that is threatening the Wood River Valley near Hailey. They were informed that pre-evacuation orders were being issued for 800 homes that could be threatened in the area. At this afternoon’s press conference Tidwell stressed the importance of heeding local authorities orders to evacuate.
“I can’t stress enough how important it is that when the Sheriff’s give that command, that direction that you need leave; people need to leave so that firefighters can do their job to suppress this fire, and then not have to worry about people that have stayed back behind.”
The Governor echoed those concerns and warned that the Elk Fire near Pine already destroyed about 95% of the homes in the Falls Creek Valley area. The Governor received a briefing on that situation in Pine today. He says when local authorities began evacuating that area, it was very fortunate people there listened.
“I understand private property. I understand you want to protect your property. But I will guarantee ya, nobody is going to go out of their way to get you out of your house if it isn’t necessary. “
U. S. Senator Jim Risch complimented state, federal and local agencies for working so well together to protect lives and property. But he also expressed concerns that federal forest management practices are closing lumber mills and creating conditions in the forest that result in catastrophic wildfires. Senator Risch pointed out that when he was first elected to the Idaho Legislature in 1975 there were 43 saw mills south of the Salmon River.
“Today there are three. Two of them that I know of are still operating, I am not so sure the third one still is. But you can’t take 40 mills out of the mix, that are taking fuel, also known as timber, out of the woods and expect that you are going to be removing fuel. It just doesn’t work.”
The Governor said the federal government should allow more active management in the forest to thin the threat from these types of catastrophic wildfires. He says the current conditions not only harm our economy, but the pollution created by the fires is threatening our environment.
“The destruction of watershed itself, the habitats, the obvious threats to human life and property. We ought to be doing what we can to create a healthy forest. Like the Chief and Senator Risch said, we are going to have forest fires, but to the (point) that we can minimize those we should be working on it. And I think harvest and also multiple-use are some of the things that we can use to get us to where we need to be.”
The Beaver Creek Fire burning near Hailey is considered the top priority fire in the nation with an estimated cost of $3.8 million dollars as of Friday (08/16/13).
Governor Otter's remarks on closing fiscal year 2013 in the black
July 18, 2013
Here are few selected audio clips from Governor Otter, recorded today (07/18/13) in his office in Boise, after he notified minority and majority leadership that the 2013 fiscal year budget which ended on July 1st, puts Idaho in the black, with revenues 3.5% ahead of projections and more than 6.3% above the previous budget year.
The Governor said cut backs and efficiencies that were implemented during the height of the recession helped keep state government spending in line with the people’s ability to fund it.
“Not only did we balance our budget but we are also now able to have about $135 million in savings.”
The Governor stated that ending the year with money left over is important so that the state can continue shoring up “rainy day” funds that were depleted during the recession. All told, the state relied on $400 million out of “rainy day” accounts to lessen the recession’s impacts on schools and other vital services starting in 2008.
“Over the next four years we used up that $400 million, or we would have had to cut state government by a total of billion dollars instead of $600 million.”
The Governor also responded to critics who have suggested the state “low-balled” revenue projections. The Governor believes it is far more prudent to build a budget around revenue projections that maybe less than what the state actually takes in, instead of building a budget around revenue projections that prove to be overly optimistic.
“Underestimating our revenues … we can always spend that money, we can always spend that money. But you can’t make up for the dysfunction that you cause when you have to cut people back in the middle of the year.”
The Governor says he has seen mid-year hold backs happen 10 times during his career in state government both as Lt. Governor and now as Governor. Governor Otter said the fiscal 2013 results show the wisdom of his shared commitment with the Legislature to ensuring government does not grow as fast as Idaho’s economy and to continue refilling the State’s various rainy day funds.
Read the Press Release
Read the Opinion Editorial
Press conference on canal safety
May 28, 2013
Here are a few selected audio clips from Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter at a press conference on canal safety recorded today (Tuesday May 28, 2013) in his ceremonial office.
The Governor unveiled a new advertising campaign to coincide with the beginning of the long irrigation season. It also is aimed at educating the public about the dangers posed by miles of irrigation canals that serve large sections of southern Idaho. The media campaign that begins May 29th targets parents, kids and pet owners and was funded by contributions from private sponsors and in-kind contributions from the Federal Bureau of Reclamation.
“This is ideally one of those situations where government-to-government and public-to-private come together for an essential purpose and a very important purpose and that is to provide the necessary caution.”
Joining the Governor at the media launch were the corporate sponsors, including the J.R. Simplot Company, Idaho Power, Idaho Water Users Association, Idaho Farm Bureau Federation, and the Idaho Potato Commission. Warren Kline, Vice President of Customer Operations at Idaho Power, said campaigns like these help educate the public to the hidden dangers.
“And it reminds people throughout the summer about the hazards that come with canals. And so we really appreciate being a part of this because it really will save lives this year.”
Rick Keller, Executive Vice President and CEO of the Idaho Farm Bureau, said irrigation canals are vital to Idaho farmers, but that he knows firsthand the dangers they pose to unsuspecting kids.
“Last year my granddaughter fell into a canal system and fortunately an older cousin was there as she was going down the culvert, was holding her up, until an adult came to help pull her out. It happened so quickly and we must be careful.”
On average each year six people – children and adults – drown in irrigation canals. The Governor said this campaign aims to prevent any loss of life this season.
“Every one of those is a tragedy, and every one of those deaths gives us more impetus to go out and do the most that we can.”
This year the 30-second public service announcements are airing on radio and television. Pet owners will be targeted for the first time this year. The ads will also air on Spanish language radio stations. The campaign will run through September.
Governor Otter signs Senate Bill 1060 making human trafficking a felony
April 4, 2013
Here are few selected audio clips recorded today (April 3, 2013) as Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter signed Senate Bill 1060 which makes human trafficking a felony.
Over the past year the Idaho Criminal Justice Commission investigated whether Idaho has a human trafficking problem and whether Idaho needed any new legislation to address the problem. The Commission found that Idaho does indeed have a human trafficking problem and that there was a gap in current Idaho law. The Governor said today that the new legislation fixes that problem. The Governor also believes the new law will act as a strong deterrent.
“It does make it a felony from now on. It will curtail the next generation of those folks that are coming up, and it will also tell the victims that they have a portal of relief, that they have a portal of protection.”
Senate Bill 1060 seeks to curtail recruitment of both adults and children into prostitution. Governor Otter says this is a problem that is not known very far outside law enforcement circles.
“We will watch for drugs we will watch for any other kind of criminal activity, but it just escapes me that the general public is not as aware of how big a problem this really is.”
According to recent government estimates nearly 2.5 million people from 127 different countries are being trafficked into 137 countries around the world.
Governor Otter proclaims March “American Red Cross Month”
March 13, 2013
Here are a few selected audio clips from Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter recorded recently at the Capitol in Boise.
The Governor has proclaimed March as “AMERICAN RED CROSS MONTH” in Idaho. The American Red Cross has over 300 employees and volunteers who respond when disaster strikes. Across the country they average more 70,000 disasters each year. The Governor said during that proclamation signing ceremony in the Governor’s Office, that the Red Cross preforms an invaluable and irreplaceable service in Idaho each year.
“The Red Cross always gives a certain source of comfort. And I would tell you that whether it is forest fires or floods or earthquakes, whatever disaster we have in Idaho, it is always one of the first calls that our disaster folks, our Homeland Security folks will make.”
Governor Otter said after signing the proclamation that the American Red Cross also collected more than 40% of the nation’s donor blood supply last year.
“And then processed and stored by the Red Cross for whenever the need arises.”
Sound of the Governor reading and signing the proclamation:
The American Red Cross also provides services to some 400,000 military members, veterans and civilians, and trains more than 7 million people in first-aid, water safety and other life-saving skills ever year.
Governor Otter addresses sequestration
March 1, 2013
Here are a few selected audio clips from Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter that were recorded at the Statehouse as the Governor was addressing a leadership meeting of Farmers Insurance officials on Thursday, February 28, 2013. The Governor was answering questions on how the federal sequestration of $85 billion will impact Idaho.
Governor Otter explained that he and dozens of other Governors found out at about the same time during a closed door meeting with the President earlier this week.
“When I went to the White House on Monday, at my table was a folder that said Idaho on the front of it. And as I opened it up, there was a stack of papers and on the first sheet of paper told me the sequestration of the $85 billion was going to cost me $20 million.”
That $20 million impact to state government will be spread out over seven months, which represents the remainder of the federal fiscal year. The Governor expressed his frustration over federal spending which he believes is unsustainable and dangerous and warned that more of these kind of mid-year budget cuts are likely.
“We have to do something like this, because the way you guys are spending money back here is crazy. It is like I get a credit card and I go down and I go out and charge a hundred thousand dollars worth of stuff on it and I hand it to my grandson (J.C.) and I say here ‘J.C., pay this off.’ That is exactly what we are doing.”
Last year the Governor ordered his agency directors to be ready for this potential reduction by preparing budgets with cuts of up to 20 percent. The Governor says while much less than we prepared for, the $20 million impact could hurt the Idaho National Guard the most, which may be forced to furlough employees.
Farmers Insurance Day at the Capitol
February 28, 2013
Here are a few selected audio clips recorded this morning (Thursday, February 28, 2013) as Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter spoke at an annual leadership meeting of Farmers Insurance at the Statehouse in Boise.
The Governor met with agents and other Farmers Insurance officials and explained why the State of Idaho is pursuing a state-based health insurance exchange instead of turning it over to the federal government to manage. Governor Otter explained that his approach to dealing with the federal government on an insurance exchange is similar to the approach and successful positions he has taken on wolves, slick spot pepper grass, and the Idaho Roadless Rule – which is the only court-approved roadless management plan in the nation.
“But because we stayed at the table and fought, we won. Now we haven’t won them all and we are not going to win them all. But I feel it is my fiduciary responsibility as the chief executive of the state to get Idaho’s way as often and as much as we possibly can.”
The Governor believes it is a state sovereignty issue and that walking away from participation is giving the federal government a blank check in determining Idahoan’s health care future. The Governor also said there are good people on both sides of this issue, which is why he is urging citizens do their own homework before deciding.
“One of the things they could do is speak to their medical provider, speak to their insurance agent. These people seem to be key on knowing exactly what the effects of having a state exchange versus a federal exchange, and that is why they prefer a state exchange. And then go to our website (gov.idaho.gov) and sign up on the petition.”
So far over 3,000 Idahoans have gone to the Governor’s Web page, at www.gov.idaho.gov and signed the Health Insurance Exchange Petition. The Governor also urges citizens to contact their lawmakers and urge them to support a state-based health insurance exchange.
Idaho Press Club
February 8, 2013
Here are a few selected audio clips of Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter recorded this morning (Friday, February 8, 2013) at the annual Idaho Press Club breakfast in Boise.
The Governor took questions from the press on a variety of issues. Regarding his health insurance exchange legislation, the Governor stated that by keeping a seat at the table, he can better protect Idahoans from Obamacare in 25 specific areas.
“I believe it is my obligation as the chief executive of the state to do everything I can to protect the state. If I didn’t believe that I would have just said to the feds, ‘Well you have your own wolf plan. Why don’t you just come in and put that in place.’ But we couldn’t do that. And we stayed at the table and we fought about it, and there are going to be people who say, ‘Well this is much much different,’ but the process isn’t.”
The Governor said that just as Idaho’s roadless plan and Idaho’s wolf plan were approved by federal courts, Idaho now is working to remain engaged and negotiating with the federal government to get the best possible deal for Idaho on a health insurance exchange.
“And I could have walked away from the table with the wolves and just said, ‘OK put your plan in’, we would have had 5 (thousand) or 6,000 wolves in Idaho by now.”
The Governor also stated that he is close to achieving his Project 60 goal of growing Idaho’s economy to $60 billion GDP annually. The Governor indicated that could happen before the end of the year.
“And of course when we do that $60 billion is simply a benchmark. It is not an end goal. We are not going to stop there. And so the question is going to be, we asked for an increase of around eight and half billion dollars in economic activity in the state in order to get to 60 billion from where we started. So I suspect we will set the (new) goal a little higher, maybe $20 billion more than that, maybe (up to) $80 billion.”
The Governor was also asked to comment on the unexpected controversy surrounding the appointment of Joan Hurlock to the Idaho Fish and Game Commission to represent the Magic Valley area. The Governor says he stands by Hurlock who received unanimous support from the selection panel. The Governor also took the occasion to dispel some of the misinformation circulating about her candidacy:
“I asked Randy Budge (chairman of the Fish and Game Commission) and I asked Joan (Hurlock), several times, this is not pretty, because this all started right after I wrote the letter to the Senate and said this is who I want to appoint to the Fish and Game Commission. And a lot of this push back started right then and there. And I said to both of them, I said look, ‘This is not going to be pretty, but I think you are qualified. I think you would be a good Fish and Game commissioner. And if you want to stay in this I am with you.’ So whatever rumors were going around that said I asked her to step down, that is not true.”
Hurlock’s confirmation is now headed to the senate floor. A vote is expected sometime next week.
Idaho Association of Counties Midwinter Legislative Conference
February 5, 2013
Here are a few selected audio clips recorded this morning ( Tuesday, February 5, 2013) as the Governor spoke with members of the Idaho Association of Counties at the group’s mid-winter conference at the Riverside Hotel in Garden City, Idaho.
The Governor answered questions about his personal property tax legislation which seeks to provide up to $140 million of tax relief. But he also assured county officials that his approach seeks to “do no harm” to local units of government.
The Governor also explained how he was bringing legislation to improve the HIRE One Act that passed in 2011. The new legislation called the HOME Act, which stands for Hire One More Employee, would help improve the ability of veterans to find work by providing tax credits for employers who hire a vet.
“And that is an additional thousand dollars for every new employee if that employee is a veteran. And when I look at the veteran unemployment in the state of Idaho, in the nation quite frankly, it should be a national embarrassment to us.”
The Governor also talked about how Idaho’s economy continues to improve. He mentioned how Idaho’s gross domestic project has grown in the last few years from $51 billion to almost $58 billion – well within reach of his Project 60 goal, to grow Idaho’s economy to $60 billion annually. But the Governor also explained how reaching the Project 60 milepost is not a finish line.
“We are not going to slam the football down in the end zone and say this is the end of the game. We will set another goal and it will be Project 80 or maybe Project 100. And as a result of that economic growth and economic activity, and your continuing to work with the professionals at the local level, we’ll continue to drive that number up.”
The Governor indicated that growing Idaho’s economy is the best way to maintain state services without raising taxes.
Financial Transparency Web Site Launch
January 10, 2013
Here are few selected audio clips from a press conference the Governor participated in Thursday morning (1/10/13) at the Capitol in Boise. The Governor was joined by State Controller Brandon Woolf to unveil Idaho’s new state financial transparency Web site – Transparent Idaho. The site puts state government finances a click away for taxpayers looking to see how their State government is spending their money.
Governor Otter said this project is a continuation of his efforts to bring transparency to every level of State government. With this new site, the Governor says state financial information is just a click away.
“Being able to go online and find out exactly where our government is spending money, exactly what the budgets are, I think is very important to the citizens of the State of Idaho.”
The new site, http://Transparent.Idaho.gov, includes thousands of downloadable reports that illuminate Idaho’s finances for the current and prior fiscal years. The reports range from broad summaries of State revenues and expenditures with easy-to-read charts and graphs, to detailed snapshots of agency-level finances. Governor Otter lauded State Controller Brandon Woolf and his office for launching the new site. Woolf said the work was done without any additional expense to state taxpayers.
“It’s the citizen’s government and it is the citizen’s money, and this Web site will help provide so that the citizens can identify and know how that money is being spent.”
Governor Otter stated other government entities should follow the state’s lead toward establishing a user-friendly website that opens their books to the citizens they serve.
“I hope that the federal government will take a look at this. I would like to be able to go online with the federal government and say, ‘Where are they spending the money for the Forest Service or U.S. Fish and Wildlife’ or a lot of the things that have effects on us. So I really congratulate Brandon and I congratulate the Controller’s office for the great job that they have done which brought us to this day to begin this process.”
Governor Otter anticipates the State Controller’s Office will make even more financial data available online in the future.
Associated Press Legislative Preview
January 4, 2013
Here are a few selected audio clips of Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter as he answered questions at The Associated Press Annual Legislative Preview. These comments were recorded live during the one-hour give-and-take session with media in the Senate Transportation Committee room at the State Capitol.
The Governor answered questions on a wide variety of topics and announced during the media availability that he has tasked outgoing director of the Idaho State Police, Colonel Jerry Russell to head up an effort to assess and recommend possible safety and security improvements in Idaho’s public schools.
“We have talked to Jerry and right after his retirement, he is willing to sit down with Tom and go through an analysis of what it would take in our public school system in Idaho, in order to make them safer, in order to control access and those sort of things. And I really appreciate our top cop being willing to do that.”
Russell will work with State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna’s Department of Education and local law enforcement and school leaders to analyze the state of security in Idaho schools in the wake of the December 14th shootings of students and staff at Connecticut’s Sandy Hook Elementary School.
The Governor also addressed questions about his recent decision to implement a state-based health insurance exchange. The Governor explained that he opted for a state-based exchange as a means of preserving options and state control over a federal health care mandate the Governor fought long and hard against, but that was ultimately upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court last year. The Governor stated that staying engaged on this issue instead of walking away from the table is the best course to preserve and safeguard Idahoan’s options.
“I think it is a state’s rights issue. We should be at the table. I thought that with the wolves, and the grizzlies bears. I thought that with the caribou. I thought that with the sage hen and almost every other issue that has come up, we continue to think that. If we stay at the table, I think we can make a difference. We did make a difference in most of those negotiations.””
Governor Otter was also asked about the future of the Idaho National Laboratory in eastern Idaho, and whether or not the recent report from the Leading In Nuclear Energy or (LINE) Commission would mean changing the terms of the historic 1995 Batt Agreement to get all the nuclear waste out of Idaho by 2035.
“We are not going to become the dumping ground for nuclear waste in Idaho. I have no disagreement with Governor Batt’s 1995 agreement. I thought it was great when he got the agreement. I thought it was great when we established a “get out of Idaho” by 2035, and I see no reason to change that. What I do see is a failure of the federal government and a potential conflict with them, because of their failure to open Yucca Mountain on time.”
Governor Otter will cover some of these topics and many others when he delivers his State of the State address to a joint session of the Idaho Legislature on Monday, January 7, at 1:00 p.m. Mountain Time.