Live blogging Otter's State of the State speech

Otter: "My speech is going to be longer than the session."

Otter congratulates the Idaho and Boise State football teams on their recent bowl victories.

"Our people's indomitable spirit remains the same."

"Idahoans are independent and freedom loving as ever."

" What governemnt does, it must do well, effective and efficiently. ... They beleive the best government is the government closest to the people."

"No. 1, we must not raise taxes. It is not our place to impose an additional economic burden on the people of Idaho who are already struggling or to put a damper on our economic recovery.”

"No. 2, we must maintain some cash reserve."

"No. 3, we must do whatever we can to protect the educational opportunities."

"No. 4, we must do whatever we can to protect the health and safety and well-being of our citizens."

No. 5, avoid duplication in state government.

"And that message is that Idaho is open for business, that we have the stable tax and regulatory climate in place to help them thrive, that our poeple are ready to compete with any in the world for the opportunity to shine."

Otter highlights several businesses in the state, including Micron, that have been having success in these tough economic times.

Otter says state is being "aggressive" to convince the Air Force that Boise and Mountain Home as the best places to provide training and operational homes for its F-35 Joint Strike Fighters.

Otter says he will be submitting reports from Business and Innovation summits to legislative committes. Among the ideas in those reports: eliminate personal property tax, create a homebuyer tax credit, significant tax credits for infrastructure construction investment.

"Idahoans are poeple who want to define their own success."

"They only want what they earn by their own intellect or the sweat of their own brow."

"To never forget that this is the people's money."

Otter asks legislators to approve September holdback.

"We must earn the trust and understanding of our people — both those that serve and those who rely on our services."

"Transportation remains a very important priority for my administration." Otter says state has been able to stretch its transportation dollars farther than ever.

Otter highlights some of the efficiencies in state government, including at Corrections and Division of Building Safety, Public Utilities Commission and the Office of Energy Resources.

"Idahoans beleive good government doesn't mean more government or bigger government."

"It is government that undertands its limitations."

Otter says the Capitol and other state buildings are more energy efficient.

Otter's 2011 budget is based on zero-revenue growth. "My budget eliminates more than 400 positions throughout state government."

Otter talks about Idaho Education Network, funding enrollment growth at College of Western Idaho and a commitment from Blue Cross for more than $300,000 in Idaho residencies.

Otter talks about wolves and slick spot peppergrass. Says he will fight federal government's decision on peppergrass.

Says he is fighting feds "from using Idaho as a dumping ground for its elemental mercury."

Otter says federal health care bills could cost state more than $500 million. Says it would force big cuts in other priorities.

"Idahoans need and deserve to know we are listening."

Otter goes over several accomplishments the government had in the previous few years.

Otter says the Legislature has averaged an 82-day session over the last 20 years. "I'm sure you share my hope today that by sticking to our principles and core values, we can balance the scales and make this amongst the shortest, most cogenial and most collaborative and most productive legislative sessions in our history."

Speech preivew

Gov. Butch Otter will propose a $40-million holdback, including a $27.9 million reduction in the public schools budget, for the next six months.

It is believed to be the first mid-year cut to public schools in Idaho history.

Unlike the September holdback ordered by Otter, the governor is not recommending filling this cut with rainy-day funds.

Among other cuts proposed by Otter to help the state deal with lower-than-anticipated revenue totals:

• Consolidating the Department of Parks and Recreation under the Department of Lands

• Eliminating general fund dollars for Idaho Public Television and a number of councils and commissions, such as the Hispanic, Independent Living and Human Rights, over a four-year period.

• Using $100 million rainy day funds to fill in the 2011 budget

• Banking more than $70 million from the Millennium Fund to cover a potential change to the federal Medicaid match rate

The Idaho Dept of Correction

mikesfreedomblog When the State is cutting school budgets, and health and welfare spending, the IDOC continues to be funded, even with the gross mismanagement which was revealed in the Legislative Audits, which were ignored by our Republican Governor.
The IDOC is allowed to release parolees from supervision if: they have paid all fines and restitution, and, they are not a threat to themselves or the community.....yet there are hundreds of parolee's who have not been in trouble in years, and who have paid all fines and restitution, yet they are still on parole, with no explanation.
There are hundreds of inmates who are well past the fixed portion of their sentences, yet they languish behind bars for no good reason, other than Olivia Craven refuses to release them. When I tried to get the minutes from a few parole hearings, not the deliberation , which is secret, the only version which is available are the approved minutes, which most often have no resemblance to the actual minutes of the hearing. What is there to hide? The reasons given for not releasing an inmate is community safety, yet when a child molester was assaulted during the unit 24 riot, he was released years early, to avoid a lawsuit, with no attention paid to community safety.
We need prison reform here in Idaho, starting with a repeal of the disastrous 'Truth in Sentencing Act' passed in 1991 by Denton Darrington. Since the inception of this misguided bill, the prison system has exploded. Are we going to allow this to continue, at the expense of the schoolchildren?

Probation and Parole

mikesfreedomblog When parolee's are placed back in prison for simple rule violations, violations which are non-arrest able, there are countless tax dollars wasted. Parolee's are being sent to the Corrections Alternate Placement Program for any and all violations, where men who were running businesses, and supporting their families, are taught how to get a job, or where men who have college level educations are being taught to write a check, or open a bank account. The core curriculim at this Facility are about a fifth grade level, and the program is finished in about half the time these parolee's spend there. The last 45 days of this 90 day program is a repetition of the first 45 days.
The program may be helpful to some, but for others , it is a blatant waste of time, at the taxpayers expense.
The rules of parole should be changed to recognize that people make mistakes, and sending them back to prison over and over is counter productive. A more reasonable approach would be to have rules which are designed for the offense.A drug offender should have to take urine tests, not a person who wrote a bad check. In reality, other States have realized that they cannot continue to send people back to prison for rule violations. If you do not get arrested in many other states, you do not get violated..period.
How can it be in the public interest for probation and parole to force a man to live in the mission, when he has a home and family, who have no record, and do not use drugs? There are more horror stories than I can tell here, but the point is, millions of dollars could be saved each year with a few sensible rule changes. It's really time to reform the system, it is badly broken, and these changes would not adversely effect public safety, only stop needless spending.