Idaho Governor Butch Otter said Monday during his State of the State address that education is his top priority for his fiscal year 2018 budget request.
His speech focused on education, tax relief and Idaho’s economy.
“Our finances are secure. Revenue is exceeding expectations. Economic growth is outpacing the overall growth of government and our own operations are more transparent and efficient than ever,” says Otter.
He is also proposing some tax relief.
Otter said last week that he had seen five tax reduction proposals from lawmakers. Monday he unveiled his own idea, a 6.3 percent cut in the base tax rate for unemployment insurance paid by Idaho employers.
“That’s $46 million in tax relief in the coming year alone and $115 million over three years,” says Otter.
Otter claimed that during his tenure, over the past 10 years, he has reduced the tax burden on Idahoans by about $1 billion.
He said he won’t look at any tax relief proposals that would cut into essential state government functions, especially those for education and career readiness.
He did not offer a specific plan to address the Idahoans who fall into the so-called Medicaid Gap. These 78,000 people are stuck without health insurance between Medicaid coverage and subsidies on the Obamacare program.
Otter said we should wait to see what the Trump administration does with Obamacare, while building local partnerships.
Meanwhile, House Minority Leader Mat Erpelding says it’s time to help the Gap population.
“We don’t have any reason to go backwards 15 years in terms of health care. And we must move and push for the 78,000 Idahoans who are currently uninsured, but at the same time we have to protect those Idahoans who receive significant benefits from the Affordable Care Act,” says Erpelding.
Otter says our immediate future is marked by hope and uncertainty while we wait to see what the President-elect will do with Obamacare.
He also had several proposals that he didn’t mention in his speech. Otter wants to give state employees a 3 percent raise, based on merit. He also supports building a second veterans cemetery in Eastern Idaho.
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