Delivering his fourth State of the State address to a joint session of the Idaho Legislature today, Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter proposed a “responsibly conservative” budget and urged lawmakers to join him in making it “among the shortest, most congenial, most collaborative and most productive legislative sessions in our history.”
Gov. Otter said that could be accomplished by sticking to Idaho’s core values and following five fundamental principles:
We must not raise taxes. “It is not our place to impose an additional economic burden on the people of Idaho who already are struggling, or to put a damper on our economic recovery.”
“We must continue to maintain some level of cash reserve against the prospect of our economic recovery taking longer and being less robust than we hope.
We must do whatever we can within the people’s means to protect the educational opportunities and safeguard the potential of the next generation of Idahoans.
“We must do whatever we can within the people’s means to protect the health, safety and well-being of our citizens – especially the neediest and most vulnerable among us.
“We must do whatever we can to avoid any duplication of effort or any waste of the taxpayers’ hard-earned dollars.”
The governor outlined his recommendations for a Fiscal Year 2011 budget that includes no increase in spending, as well as holding back an additional $40 million or 1.6 percent of what was appropriated last winter to all State agencies and operations – including public schools – for this year’s budget.
“That is among the toughest recommendations I make today,” he said. “But the fact is that while other Executive Branch agencies have cut their spending by $499 million as a result of holdbacks over the past two years, we have used almost $318 million from reserve accounts and federal stimulus funds during that same period to reduce the impact on public schools.”
In addition, the governor proposed using almost $241 million from state reserve accounts and the non-endowed portion of the Millennium Fund to address projected revenue shortfalls in the balance of Fiscal Year 2010 and in Fiscal Year 2011