Governor Otter gives comments following his State of the State Address
January 13, 2015
Here are a few selected audio clips recorded in the Capitol, yesterday afternoon (Jan. 12, 2015) as Governor C.L. Butch Otter hosted a post State of the State press conference.
On education, Governor Otter said his 7.4 percent increase continues the work of restoring funds to K-12 Education.
Audio Clip #1
"If you take a look at the task force recommendations that we are beginning the funding on now we funded some of them last year, or began funding some of them last year - there is a continuum of that as we get reports back on how well was our money spent last year and so some of that money and the task force recommendations that had previously been used for classroom support will be within that lump sum of the increase.
On transportation funding, the Governor spoke of the need to provide an equitable way of raising funds to safeguard our investment in roads and bridges, many of which have exceeded their designed life spans.
Audio Clip #2
"An increase in the gas tax doesnt solve the problem because how do you tax the electric car? How do you make a fair share payment for the safety you want on the road and for the space you take up on the road and the usage you put on the road if youre getting fifty miles to the gallon in one vehicle and twelve in another?"
On healthcare, the Governor said he wants to continue making improvements in the delivery of health care services and in reforming some of the services the state currently provides.
Audio Clip #3
"Well, I like the personal responsibility. I like the pay for performance. I like the accountability, enforced accountability, either through co-payments. I like the establishment of medical homes, they are going to the same place every time because then that doctor is fully aware of their medical history and fully aware of whatever he can expect. Part and parcel to that, I didn't mention it but I asked for another five positions, seats, at WWAMI so we can get more primary health care doctors on the ground."
On tax relief, the Governor said he believes the state can provide some tax relief by cutting Idahos individual corporate income tax below 7 percent from the current 7.4 percent and the complete elimination of the personal property tax.
Audio Clip #4
"There have been several people in the legislators in the office and legislators that have always provided leadership toward fiscal responsibility and when we got a little extra money lets get some of it back."
Governor Otter participates in Associated Press Legislative Preview
January 8, 2015
Here are a few selected audio clips from Governor Otter that were recorded today (1/08/15) in WW55 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.
The Governor opened the event by speaking on the current status of the States economy as we enter into the 2015 Legislative session.
Audio Clip #1
"The state is in, financially speaking; the state is in great shape. In fact compared to many other states which people have a tendency to always do, we are in great shape. In fact, over all we are right back about where we were before the great recession started in terms of financial stability."
However, the Governor continues to stress the importance of making sure government lives within the peoples means and ensuring government spending doesn't outpace the States economic success.
Audio Clip #2
"It had been my intent not to let state government grow at the same rate that the economy grows."
Governor Otter also said that education spending will return at least PRE-recession levels.
Audio Clip #3
"My budget is going to reflect bringing education pretty close, if not above, what the 2009 budget was."
During his question and answer availability with the press Governor Otter touched on the current status of the Idaho Education Network (IEN) contract and what the state is doing to ensure the long-term viability of the network.
Audio Clip #4
“We have charged Teresa Luna, who is the Director of the Department of Administration, with a standard of trying to establish more transparency, trying to establish more deliberation and a greater degree of professional vetting on any and all state contracts over five million dollars."
The Governor also explained the role former Senator John Goedde would play in his office and what that will mean for the future of the IEN.
Audio Clip #5
"Because of Senator Goeddes longstanding advocacy and appreciation, and quite frankly marshalling the process when we were adopting the Idaho Education Network, I think he is the right person to help us with that through this legislative session."
The Governor will lay out his entire legislative agenda before a joint session of the Idaho Legislature on Monday, January 12th at 1:00 p.m.
Governor Otter participates in cutting the ribbon of the Idaho Falls Behavioral Health Crisis Center
December 16, 2014
Here are a few selected audio clips recorded yesterday in Idaho Falls at the ribbon cutting of the new Behavioral Health Crisis Center in that community.
The center, approved by the Legislature last session, will provide community officials in eastern Idaho with a new tool in the ongoing effort to help people who are mentally ill or suffering a substance abuse crisis. The Governor cut the ribbon yesterday to the center that will provide expertise and clinically trained professionals in a solution the Governor called community based.
Audio Clip #1
"This is the mark of a community that cares. Those people that we look to, first it is ourselves. And then when we can't do it we look to our family. And when our family can't do it we look to our community. And that community which steps out first and sets a standard that says we care."
As the Governor mentioned yesterday, these cases are usually very complex and extremely time consuming. The new center will provide up to 24 hour crisis intervention. Community leaders say it will free up first responders who have typically spent up to five hours trying to assist these individuals who will also be connected with ongoing community services to help avert future crisis situations. The Governor also believes this facility in eastern Idaho could well be a model for others around the state.
Audio Clip #2
"We will be using your report to me as a blueprint and a measurement against all others who would ask for this same kind of consideration."
Lawmakers provided funding for one crisis center but a number of other communities have voiced interest in having such a facility in their region.
Governor Otter participates in announcing Amy's Kitchen coming to Pocatello
October 20, 2014
Here are a few selected audio clips from Governor C.L. Butch Otter recorded today at the Pocatello Regional Airport at the announcement that Amy's Kitchen, the nation's leading maker of organic and non-GMO convenience food, is moving into Idaho.
Amy's Kitchen coming to Idaho will bring about 1,000 jobs and an economic impact to the state will include new total wages of $342 million and new state tax revenues of $35.7 million as the plant becomes fully operational over the next 15 years. Governor Otter was joined by local officials and community leaders to make the announcement of the family-owned organization purchasing the 500,000-square-foot facility in Pocatello formerly operated by Heinz.
Audio Clip #1
It's a great announcement that comes after a lot of hard work, a lot of meetings, and a lot of effort that said how proud we would be if a company such as we're prepared to announce today would come to Idaho. Because it's more than just this company and its more than just what Pocatello is going to gain or Bannock county is going to gain, or this economic region is going to gain."
Amy's is able to leverage Idaho's new Tax Reimbursement Incentive (TRI) as a result of the quantity and quality of jobs the company will bring to the state, along with the significant impact on Idaho's food processing industry and the local community.
Audio Clip #2
“The companies that we have been able to attract – especially in the last six years – has helped us lead the nation out of this economic recession is a result of that legislative work. Working in collaboration and in partnership with the state of Idaho in telling the business world that Idaho is opened for business and we are prepared to move at the speed that they need.”
Up until the official announcement the project title given negotiations to bring Amy’s Kitchen to Idaho were referred to as “Project Natural” by Governor Otter and the Department of Commerce.
“And so we move forward this morning from a project called ‘The Natural’ to a project called ‘Amy’s Kitchen’.”
Amy’s products are available nationwide in supermarkets, natural foods stores and select warehouse club stores, as well as internationally. Amy’s new operation at the Heinz facility has plans to be operational by December 2014.
Governor Otter participates in an Ebola preparedness briefing
October 20, 2014
Here are a few selected audio clips from Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter recorded today at Gowen Field in Boise as the Governor participated in an Ebola preparedness briefing for the State of Idaho.
Governor Otter was briefed by Brigadier General Brad Richy of the Idaho Bureau of Homeland Security and other State, local and county public health officials as well as private healthcare providers who told the Governor that Idaho has been preparing to deal with the threat from this deadly virus and is ramping up its level of activity.
Audio Clip #1
“It seems like every day we learn something new about handling this virus. And so … it may be necessary from time to time that we come back. That today’s final answers on how we contain it, how we isolate it, how we treat it, how we treat ourselves, to make sure that we contain any potential spread.”
Governor Otter stated that while no new cases have been reported over the weekend elsewhere in the nation, the state must not let its guard down.
Audio Clip #2
“This may not be the last, I hope it is, but this might not be the last that we need to be ready to reorganize… as new information or new treatments or new operational protocols come about.”
Dr. Christine Hahn, State Epidemiologist, says the State is staying abreast of the situation both nationally and internationally and is implementing lessons learned from the unfortunate events in Texas and Ohio to protect Idaho citizens.
Audio Clip #3
As you all know, we have not had any cases of Ebola in Idaho, but it is really important that we take this opportunity, learn from what has happened in Texas and remember that even though things seem to be resolving there that diseases such as Ebola are truly only a plane ride away. We need to continue to work on preparedness. I think the hospitals are very wisely looking at their capacity, mostly to keep healthcare workers safe.”
The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare’s webpage: www.ebola.idaho.gov has the latest Ebola information.
Governor Otter proclaims September to be College Savings month for IDeal
September 23, 2014
Here are a few selected audio clips recorded today in the Governor’s Ceremonial Office during an official proclamation signing for College Savings Month for IDeal. IDeal is Idaho’s state-sponsored 529 college savings program and is administered by the Idaho College Savings Board. Governor Otter spoke in favor of the 529 savings programs, which are tax-advantaged savings programs for post-secondary education.
Audio Clip #1
“You know, when I think of the 529 program I can’t think of a better effort that we can make in order to reach our goal by 2020 of having 60% of the citizens of the state of Idaho between the ages of 25 and 34 have a post-secondary degree or a post-high school degree.”
Governor Otter also stressed the importance of taking measures to save money for college as early as possible.
Audio Clip #2
“If we can get people very very early starting [to] save money for college, they got it on their mind! And when you got it on your mind you are going to work at it almost every day.”
The proclamation signed declares that the Month of September as College Savings Month in hopes of promoting forward thinking financial values for college education. The theme for the month is “Dream Big”, with IDeal encouraging Idaho citizens with hopes for college to share their dreams online through social media where they are offering $529 scholarships for the winners of a dream video submission contest.
Governor Otter visits the Vietnam Veterans Traveling Tribute Wall in Boise
September 18, 2014
Here are a few selected audio clips recorded today at Cloverdale Cemetery in Boise during a visit to the American Veterans Traveling Tribute, a scaled replica of the Vietnam Wall Memorial in Washington, D.C. During the visit, Governor Otter stressed the importance of honoring our veterans from the Vietnam War and every other conflict that led to Americans dying for the freedoms and beliefs that we stand for as a nation.
Audio Clip #1
“If nothing else we are showing people the correct way to honor our warriors. There were a lot of us serving during that time that perhaps didn’t agree philosophically … but it was still our country, and it is still our duty as citizens to defend this country and to defend the freedoms that we stand for.”
On August 9th, the Memorial visited Jerome, Idaho, where Governor Otter spoke about the national attitude during the Vietnam War and the important opportunity that every Idahoan has to visit the memorials and reflect on these individuals’ sacrifices.
Audio Clip #2
“The locations that they have chosen are ideal. We had the opportunity, as I said, to visit it in a rural setting in Idaho and a tremendous amount of people turned out and we are very grateful for the effort that went into presenting the wall and having the time to remember.”
In addition to the Vietnam War, there are other memorials and panels erected for many of America’s other wars and conflicts. The Traveling Tribute will be in Boise and is on display and open to the public at the Cloverdale Cemetery from now through Sunday September 21st.
Speech at the Fallen Soldier Memorial
September 11, 2014
Here are a few selected audio and *video clips from Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter recorded earlier today (09/11/14) at the Fallen Soldier’s Memorial in Boise. Governor Otter, Lt. Governor Brad Little, and Major General Gary Sayler of the Idaho National Guard attended the memorial service. Also in attendance was Admiral Michele Howard from the Pentagon, Vice Chief of Naval Operations.
Governor Otter spoke about each of the Idaho men and women who gave up their lives in the war on terror and whose names appear on the monument.
Audio Clip #1
“Sixty-seven Idahoan’s gave the last full measure of devotion to the cause of liberty and the American way of life. Sixty-seven Idahoans names are inscribed forever not only on this memorial, but in the hearts of all of those who understand the cost of freedom. All who understand that defending freedom is the responsibility of each and every generation.”
In his remarks, the Governor lauded the dedication and selfless sacrifice of those Idahoans who died in the first war of the 21st century.
Audio Clip #2
“Sixty-seven Idahoans did not come home. But they live here with us, and they are a part of us and a proud legacy of the generations yet unborn.”
Governor Otter Comments on the same-sex marriage case at the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals
September 8, 2014
Here is some audio from the Governor (recorded today (09/08/14) regarding the same-sex marriage case being argued today at the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.
Governor Otter describes why he believes Idaho has a strong case to present to the three judge panel upholding marriage in Idaho as being between one and one woman.
Audio Clip #1
“We think we have a good argument. We have an argument that represents the values that Idaho has and the culture of Idaho. And that is we believe in traditional marriage. We have nothing against those folks that want to create a union, but we just believe in traditional marriage. And we believe in it so deeply and were so concerned about some of the aspects that we saw going on around the United States, that in 2006 we actually held a referendum in the state of Idaho that passed well over 60 percent. The people amended the Idaho Constitution (article 3, section 28) to say that marriage in Idaho, LEGAL marriage in Idaho, is between one man and one woman. That is our argument. That is our culture. That is our values in Idaho."
The state had asked for an “EN BANC” or 11-judge panel of the 9th Circuit to weigh the case, but was given a 3 judge panel instead. Governor Otter has stated on numerous occasions that he believes that ultimately the U.S. Supreme Court must weigh and make a definitive decision that will settle this issue.
Visit by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia
August 25, 2014
Here are a few selected audio clips recorded today in Boise at the Capitol in the Governor’s Office. Governor Otter visited with U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia today. Justice Scalia was in Boise to discuss the intricacies of water law and the success of the Snake River Basin Adjudication process.
Audio Clip #1
“The celebration we are having today with Justice Scalia gives a great exclamation point to the judicial success that we have had in the appropriation and adjudication process of the Eastern Snake River plain aquifer and the Snake River.”
Scalia also visited the State Capitol and made a trip to the Governor’s Office. There, Justice Scalia met with Governor Otter and former Governor Dirk Kempthorne. Governor Otter says visits like these from sitting Supreme Court justices speak to the success Idaho has enjoyed in resolving one of its most pressing issues – dealing with water rights, the law, and finding equitable solutions.
Audio Clip #2
“So Justice Scalia’s presence here makes a tremendous statement about Idaho is probably … the only state in the union that has accomplished this huge feat, of being able to make sure that we have water rights that are correct and historically proven.”
Justice Scalia will be in Boise through tomorrow (Tuesday 8/26/14). He is expected to address a conference meeting in Boise through Tuesday that is working towards developing a foundation for a state and national water policy.
Intermountain Energy Summit
August 20, 2014
Here are a few selected audio clips recorded in Idaho Falls during the Intermountain Energy Summit which began Tuesday and runs through Today (August 20). Today at the summit U.S. Energy Secretary, Dr. Ernest Moniz (Pronounced: MO-nees) addressed attendees and announced that $67 million will be invested towards the development of advanced nuclear technology. Almost $4 million of that would be coming to Idaho. Earlier, Governor Otter addressed the same group and told attendees that focusing on providing reliable, economically delivered energy should be an important part of their discussions.
Audio Clip #1
“Sustainability - whether it’s water, energy, all kinds of resources - is probably the key word of the day. And the fact that we have been able to bring together a lot of the resource-wise people right here at this conference is terribly important. We’ve included Canada, obviously Secretary Moniz thinks it’s a good enough meeting for him to show up, which I greatly appreciate. You know without the mayor and Mike Simpson, their efforts, the delegations’ – Senators Risch and Crapo especially – this just wouldn’t be possible. But it’s important for the Pacific Northwest and it’s important for our future.”
Secretary Moniz met with Governor Otter, Lt. Governor Brad Little and Congressman Mike Simpson on Tuesday at the Center for Advanced Energy Studies and discussed transmission, nuclear energy and the important role the Idaho National Laboratory plays in nuclear power production, development and research. Governor Otter invited Secretary Moniz to come out to Idaho and lauded Moniz for participating in the summit.
Audio Clip #2
“Well it says an awful lot about this being the national nuclear lab, and it says an awful lot about the credibility of the lab, and I think the emphasis that we are willing to put now on the small modular reactor, and going forward the fact the Fluor and NuScale established their ‘A’ headquarters – their satellite headquarters – here so that they’re right in the center of nuclear wisdom and activity. I think it says an awful lot about the lab and I think Secretary Moniz, who has been a very supportive proponent of nuclear energy, I think that says an awful lot.”
Governor Otter says he was encouraged by what he heard from the Secretary and from other attendees at the summit and he is hopeful that solutions to controversial issues like transmission will result from such meetings.
Audio Clip #3
“[What] I would expect to come out of here, a plan and a road map. Not only a calendar, but also a road map for the power lines that have to come from the Bakken, come through Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Oregon, and then turn south, whether it’s into Utah, or Nevada, or California.
The summit wraps up today. The stated focus of the summit is “leveraging the full potential of the Intermountain West’s abundant energy resources to ensure sustainable power into the future.”
American Veterans Traveling Tribute Memorial Wall
August 19, 2014
Here are a few selected audio clips recorded recently in the Governor’s Office regarding the American Veterans Traveling Tribute, a scaled replica of the Vietnam Wall Memorial in Washington D.C. The Memorial will be coming to the Treasure Valley September 17th through the 21st. The “Cost of Freedom Tribute Wall” will be set up in Boise that week at Cloverdale Cemetery. Earlier this month the Tribute Wall stopped in Jerome, where Governor Otter attended a ceremony recognizing and honoring the veterans of the Vietnam War.
Audio Clip #1
“I think it’s a demonstration that every vet who was in the military and their families and their friends during the Vietnam era now see that people all over the United States have a reverence for all veterans, including those in one of the most unpopular wars of the 20th century, and I saw that demonstrated by a huge crowd in Jerome, Idaho this last weekend.”
This memorial consists of an 80-percent scale replica of the Vietnam War Memorial, including a 190-foot section honoring all veterans including those serving today. Governor Otter also touched on the importance of honoring and respecting Vietnam veterans now more than ever, due to the national attitude toward the Vietnam War shifting towards gratitude for their sacrifice.
Audio Clip #2
“Those folks on that wall, as they look down on us now, are seeing that the attitude has changed as it should have been, and they are getting the respect now that they deserved then.”
The traveling wall includes all of the names listed on the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington D.C., including all Idahoans who died in that conflict. There are eight Idahoans from the Vietnam War who are not included on the wall because they are still listed as missing in action, but those individuals were remembered and honored at the recent ceremony in Jerome.
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 Signs Executive Order creating Ombudsman
April 23, 2014
Here are a few selected audio clips recorded today (4/23/14) in the Governor’s Office.
Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter announced the signing of an executive order creating an ombudsman to provide oversight and transparency on how public records requests are handled by state government agencies.
Governor Otter said this executive order will help begin the process of improving how governments in Idaho respond to public records requests from citizens and the news media.
Audio Clip #1
“Our efforts are to establish consistency between the agencies and reasons for them. Why is all this important? Well because before now the only remedy for somebody being denied a public records request was to go to court. I think this is an opportunity for us to put a process in place that is consistent across the executive administration.”
Governor Otter introduced Cally Younger, an attorney in the Office of the Governor, as the public records ombudsman. She will be responsible for ensuring that the policies and practices of all Executive Branch agencies, departments and offices are consistent. She also will collect information about the number of denials of public records requests issued by those agencies, as well as the reasons for the denials, costs associated with the requests and the total cost of compliance with the Idaho Public Records Act.
Audio Clip #2
“In the next six months, seven months, Cally is going to put together all this information so that we can then build a process that is consistent and fair and equitable across my agencies.”
The Office of the Attorney General has deputies attorney general assigned to each Executive Branch agency whose jobs include advising directors and administrators how most appropriately to respond to public records requests. Having an ombudsman in the Office of the Governor to review those denials should cut down on lawsuits and save constituents money while increasing the public’s confidence in government transparency said Governor Otter.
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 meets with Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and Senators at the National Interagency Fire Center
March 17, 2014
Here are few selected audio clips from Governor C. L. “Butch” Otter, recorded at the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) in Boise on March 17, 2014.
Earlier today Governor C. L. “Butch” Otter attended a meeting with Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell at NIFC in Boise along with the Senators Mike Crapo and Jim Risch of Idaho, Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley of Oregon, and Congressman Raul Labrador. Their conversation centered on a new and fundamentally different approach to planning and budgeting for wildfire suppression. Under the plan, wildfire costs can be prioritized much like natural disasters and be included in the Department of Interior’s annual budget (starting in 2015).
Governor Otter says in making these proposed changes to how firefighting is funded, the federal government can provide additional resources to protect lives and property – not just in Idaho but all over the country.
Audio Clip #1
“In a severe fire season the Forest Service has - from years to years - robbed from Peter to pay Paul, so to speak. [Taken] from one fund to another - from the prevention fund to the firefighting fund - and as a result we haven’t had the money necessary to come forward with the kind of prevention and management that’s necessary. ”
The new initiative that was spearheaded by Senators Crapo and Wyden has come about through a bipartisan effort to ensure that wildfires are given the kind of priority funding other natural disasters receive.
Audio Clip #2
“The delegation that is represented here today from Idaho and Oregon that has come together and has come up with some opportunities for us to have a more predictable amount of money, more predictable management, more predictable prevention, and maybe a more predictable fire season.”
Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell attended today’s meeting and said this new approach to planning and paying for firefighting will also help improve post-fire rehabilitation in Western ecosystems.
Audio Clip #3 – Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell
“2013 was not a terrible fire year - it was a sort of a new normal fire year in some ways - but it exceeded the fire suppression budgets for the U.S. Forest Service and all the bureaus of the Department of the Interior by about half a billion dollars. So that means we got to claw into the funds that were otherwise set aside for hazardous fuel removal, for post fire remediation, and other parts of the budget in order to take care of the fire suppression. And when we can’t remove hazardous fuels, and we can’t do prescribed burns that help prepare these ecosystems for a more natural cycle of fire, then we end up with a worse suppression situation, and it spirals down and we have to borrow more money and so on.”
Oregon Senator Ron Wyden stressed the importance of bipartisan cooperation in order to respond to the new “normal” fire seasons that the states are facing.
Audio Clip #4 – Senator Ron Wyden
“ The reason this is so important is that the fires now are often bigger, they are often hotter, and they often last longer. And we now feel on a bipartisan basis that it is time for a fresh approach with respect to fighting wildfire.”
Wyden says support from Governor Otter and Idaho’s congressional delegation was key to hammering out a new agreement that will be included in the federal budget.
Audio Clip # 5 - Senator Ron Wyden
"So we’re all, on a bipartisan basis, committed to making sure that that prevention fund is at the front and center of the our fire policy and I think in future negations, the Governor offered to help – Governor Otter, I had mentioned to him, Chairman Ryan in my early discussions. I think Governor Otter will be very helpful on this. Congressmen Greg Walden, of course from eastern Oregon, a member of the House leadership, has already been very helpful on this. We’re going to get this done and certainly those exploratory discussions – cause that’s really all they were - gave us an indication of what the challenges are, and I think that we can meet them on a bipartisan basis.”
Governor Otter stated this new approach to funding and fighting wildfires will leverage the combined resources of local, state and federal governments.
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.