Editorialists hammer Otter on low-balled Idaho revenue, praise Andrus

Newspapers in Twin Falls, Lewiston and Idaho Falls poked GOP Gov. Butch Otter Thursday for losing his bet with former Democratic Gov. Cecil Andrus over Idaho's fiscal 2011 revenue.

The news came Wednesday that the state collected $85 million more than Otter and the GOP Legislature predicted, growth of 7.9 percent.

The lower projections prompted big cuts in education and Medicaid, but $68 million of the surplus will go to K-12 and community colleges because of federal rules attached to Idaho's receipt of stimulus funds.

Andrus, Idaho's only four-term governor, left office in 1995. But he won a $100 bet with Otter when he sided with now-retired state economist Mike Ferguson's higher — and slightly undershot — projection.

"How come it took Otter by surprise?," wrote the Lewiston Tribune's Marty Trillhaase. "How come Andrus saw it coming?"

"Otter and the GOP chose simply to ignore Ferguson's estimates — and those of his successor, Derek Santos — in favor of political numbers. They did it last year. They continued this year." Otter pegged fiscal 2012 growth at 3 percent, Santos predicted 6.9 percent, prompting Trillhaase to write, "That one decision forced about $90 million in public schools, higher education and Medicaid cuts next year."

At the Idaho Falls Post Register, Corey Taule wrote, "The bottom line is this: Ferguson was right. Otter and the Republican Legislature were wrong. Unless, of course, being wrong was right and the intention all along was to starve the beast and create an artificial surplus that should, according to House Republican Floor Leader Mike Moyle, be given 'back to taxpayers.'"

The Tribune and Post Register are subscription-only papers; online access requires payment.

But the Twin Falls Times News is still free online. In an unsigned editorial, the paper called the revenue figures "sweet, belated vindication" for Ferguson.

The paper also noted the GOP's ignoring advice from GOP Attorney General Lawrence Wasden about unconstitutional legislation in 2011. The state is now fighting in federal court over anti-union, health care and abortion laws.

"Didn't matter," writes the Times-News. "The Legislature passed them and Otter signed them anyway.

"Which leaves two possibilities: Either legislators and our governor are becoming too smart to require professional advice, or they're engaging in social engineering — damn the consequences to real people."

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Low-balling is better

The US economy is growing at about 2%.

Would you like to stake a budget on
$2,440,000,000 or

The $85M is only 3% off the projection.

Either up or down, that's not a big difference.

There is no practical reason for "hammering" the budget makers on this one-- it's all politics.

Not a big difference?

$85 Mill is a huge difference to those who need it! But you're right about one thing, it is ALL politics. After forcing huge cuts to vital State functions out leaders can say "See, you didn't really need that money anyway." while they ignore the damage done.


Is that any different than what is happening in business today?


The $85 million surplus was around 8% more than what was budgeted (projection).

Kuna Math

How about this- you tell us what you think was budgeted(projected) and show us how you calculate $85 million is 8% of that amount?

Astral Projection


Too literal? I'm sorry you feel I have a Literal Agenda!


If your vital Medicaid services were geting cut- or eliminated- due to budget reductions, you probably wouldn't say it was "not a big difference."

tru dat

But math says it's not a big difference.

Let's face it, the GOP in

Let's face it, the GOP in Idaho does not want an educated public, they want us to continue voting

Otter wasn't surprised by the $

And neither were his country-club cronies... they all knew Fergesun would be right on the money like he generally has been in the past. Otter, JFAC and the rest of the O.B.C. simply wanted to cutcutcut regardless of the impact and used $ panic as justification- just one part of a propaganda effort we saw play out nationwide.

Republicans say government is the problem

When they get elected, it's hard to argue.


It's time you learned Comrade, reality is not based on facts, reasoned analysis, or professional opinion. Reality Comrade, is what THE PARTY says is real. The sooner you learn to accept this the smoother your life will become.

Da Sinocommunists are the bad guys and the Russkies ain't.


Too literal? I'm sorry you feel I have a Literal Agenda!

"Never spend your money before you have it." Thomas Jefferson


The Tribune and Post

The Tribune and Post Register are subscription-only papers; online access requires payment.

But the Twin Falls Times News is still free online.

This information is pertinent to the article in what way?

So you don't come back to whine about it. NEXT!


Too literal? I'm sorry you feel I have a Literal Agenda!

Lowballing revenue

Remember back to the 2010 session when the FY2011 budget was built. The Legislative Majority predicted a revenue of $2.305 billion. The governor used $2.354 billion. The State economist predicted $2.430 billion. We know the actual--$2.444 billion.

By choosing and budgeting to the lower number, the stage was set for a "surplus" when the final reality was known. But before then, JFAC and the Legislature severely cut K-12, higher Ed. And almost every department of government. We are paying for those cuts in overburdened and at times ineffective departmental performance.

The stage is set for the same thing this year. If the forecast revenue increase takes place, there may be as much as $100-200 million "surplus". But to reach the 2012 budget target we cut over $100 million in Medicaid services ($35 m general fund), and additional large decreases as well in public schools and higher education. And we were told that the reason we needed to trade teachers for laptops is because there was no other way to generate the funds for the technology.

What's done is done. But we have an opportunity to reconsider the harmful reductions to needed and beneficial services in light of what we can almost certainly expect to happen.

A surplus is what is left over when your obligations have been met. I don't believe we have done that yet.

the agenda

Without bemoaning the results of a terrible economy, the republicans have a more difficult path to entirely replacing American democracy with the corporate oligarchy they clearly support.

Idaho is still a welfare state.

Why doesn't the GOP stand on its own two feet?

That Superfly guy is dead too.


Too literal? I'm sorry you feel I have a Literal Agenda!