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Idaho Governor Calls For Reversal Of Recession-Era Cuts To Schools

Jessica Robinson
Northwest News Network
Idaho Gov. Butch Otter speaks to reporters after his state of the state address on Monday.

The governor of Idaho said now that the state's economy is looking up, it's time to reverse the some of the belt-tightening measures made during the recession.

To public schools in particular.

Gov. Butch Otter’s annual state of the state address was a kind of budget wish list to lawmakers.

“And that list begins with education,” the governor said.

Otter is proposing a 7.4 percent increase in public schools funding -- including raises for teachers. These could amount to $10,000 or more and would be rolled out over six years through a tiered system tied to performance.

And then, Otter said there's another key function of government that needs attention: highways.

“It's time for us to address that elephant in the room,” he said.

The governor said Idaho's roads and bridges are sorely in need of hundreds of millions of dollars in improvements.

“That raises the big question of taxation,” Otter said.

But whether that means a hike in the gas tax, Otter did not address. He’s leaving that question to the legislature.

The governor is also seeking:

  • to fund another five seats for Idaho medical students to participate in the University of Washington's WWAMI program
  • for raises for state employees of up to 3 percent, based on merit
  • a comprehensive literacy plan to increase the number of children reading at grade level by the end of third grade
  • a reduction in individual and corporate income taxes
  • lawmakers to allocate another $400,000 to the wolf control board