Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter opened the 2nd Regular Session of the 60th Idaho Legislature today with his State of the State address. Lawmakers and other public officials streamed into the newly refurbished Idaho Capitol to hear the governor lay out his plans for filling the funding gap that exists for the current fiscal year and outlining plans for funding state programs for FY 11.
In the weeks leading up to the end of 2009, reporters and lawmakers began laying the groundwork for what was predicted to be a somber message from the governor. Early on in his remarks, Governor Otter pointed out that the way to find a cure for our ailing economy would require “sacrifice and hard work.”
After declaring there would be no tax increases, claiming a need to hang on to some of cash reserves in case the economic recovery takes longer or is less robust than we hope, and expressing his desire to “protect the educational opportunities for our children and grandchildren,” Governor Otter announced a 1.6% immediate spending cut for the remainder of FY 10 for all state programs, including K-12 public schools.
The governor then laid out a funding proposal for the next fiscal year that is based on no increase in revenue and no growth in state programs, except for the K-12 public schools. He will reportedly propose funding for a larger student population in the coming year at the same level as this year’s increase.
The governor further informed lawmakers that he will forward to them reports outlining ideas he has been receiving from the business community. Included in those reports are proposals to provide significant tax credits for infrastructure construction investments and elimination of Idaho’s personal property tax.
What does all of this mean for public schools? Though the details have yet to be ironed out, we can be sure that school districts will be further cinching up their belts in the days ahead and local budgets will be scoured to find even more ways to reduce expenses to meet the governor’s call for spending cuts in the current year.
We will be carefully reviewing the details of Governor Otter’s budget proposal and providing updates as we learn more about the specific elements of his spending plan. In the meantime, as lawmakers grapple with the hard choices about how to spend the state’s limited resources, IEA members will be there to offer our expertise about the effects these decisions may have on Idaho’s children.
Click here to read the entire text of Governor Otter’s speech.