Armed with new poll, Otter says Idahoans want education reform

Gov. Butch Otter said Wednesday he will champion restoring pieces of three education laws voters widely rejected last month, after seeing a poll showing Idahoans still back aspects of the reforms.

“We got back some very good numbers that I think we can rely on,” Otter told the Associated Taxpayers of Idaho at a Boise meeting that marks the informal annual kickoff of the legislative season.

“There were parts and pieces of every one of those that folks did want,” Otter said, adding that he’s working on providing suggestions to lawmakers when they convene Jan. 7. “There will be some early ideas that come forth.”

Otter didn’t elaborate on what portions of Propositions 1, 2 and 3 he will try to revive, but highlighted the importance of boosting technology in classrooms. “I know something is going to come, with us or without us,” Otter said.

The poll was commissioned by a group associated with Otter, Education Voters of Idaho, which raised about $640,000 in support of the propositions. EVI spokesman John Foster declined to release the poll Wednesday.

During the question period, former state economist Mike Ferguson asked Otter if he believed the state is complying with the Idaho Constitution’s mandate that Idaho “maintain a general, uniform and thorough system of public, free common schools.”

Ferguson now directs the Idaho Center for Fiscal Policy, which says support for Idaho schools has fallen by a fifth since 2000. The center says after decades of funding schools at roughly 4.4 percent of personal income, the figure fell to 3.5 percent in fiscal 2013. Meanwhile, school districts are increasingly relying on voter-approved supplemental levies, which rose from $140 million to $169 million this year.

At first, Otter said, “I’m not prepared to answer that question,” and asked Ferguson whether the state has ever met the standard. He added that it isn’t fair for rural districts to offer less robust curriculum than urban districts.

Finally, Otter said, “I would say that we’re probably not (meeting the constitutional obligation), but we’re doing the best we job that we can and we’re going to continue to do the best job that we can.”

Otter also left tea leaves to be read on three other key issues for the 2013 session: whether he’ll ask lawmakers to approve a state-run health insurance exchange; urge them to take advantage of federal incentives to expand Medicaid coverage; and the details of his support for repeal of the personal property tax, which raises about $130 million a year for local governments.

By Dec. 14, Otter has to tell the federal government whether Idaho will operate its own exchange, do so in partnership with the federal government, or leave the job to the feds. Otter will meet with newly elected legislative leaders Friday afternoon to discuss the issue.

Proponents of a state exchange, which include Idaho’s big insurers and employers, may be heartened to hear Otter’s civics lesson after failed efforts to overturn Obamacare in the courts and at the ballot box.

“I want to remind you, we are a republic,” he said. “And one of the first and most important tenets of the republic is the rule of law. So, like it or not, we’ve tried to change the law, we’ve challenged the law, we’ve done everything we possibly could.

“And now we have to make the decision and that decision will come down. It’s not going to please everybody, I’m sure. Those of us that have to make the decision probably won’t be pleased about it.”

Opponents may be pleased to hear Otter’s criticism of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for changing the rules for implementation. “It’s kind of been on the installment plan,” Otter complained.

“Every time we think we’re at a point where we’re ready to make a decision on it, then we get another set of rules and regulations that changes the dynamic of what we thought we were dealing with when we were going through the investigation and the hearings on whether or not we oughta establish a state insurance exchange.”

On Medicaid, Otter said he hasn’t gotten solid answers from governors who have opted to add more low-income beneficiaries to the health plan heavily subsidized by the feds but costing Idaho hundreds of millions annually.

At first, the feds will pick up all the cost of the expansion, later dropping to 90 percent. Expansion would add an estimated 80,000 recipients to about 238,000 Idahoans already on the plan.

Otter said he’s concerned about the financing scheme. “One of the most intriguing and inviting reasons for the expansion is it’s all paid for. The next question is how are they going to get the money?”

Otter then said he fears continuing growth of federal power. “I’ve often wondered what a second Jimmy Carter term would look like,” referring to the Democratic president defeated by Ronald Reagan in 1980. “I think we’re going to find out. I think that probably the next four years are going to see a dramatic and continued expansion of not only the federal government, but a consequential reduction of the powers and authorities (of the states). It’s not something I’m looking forward to, but I signed onto the job.”

On repealing personal property tax, Otter reiterated his support but cautioned that state revenue projections have been scaled back since the 2012 legislative session. Projected growth in fiscal 2013, which ends in June, has been cut from 3 percent to 2.7 percent, he said. Projected growth in fiscal 2014 has been scaled back from 5.9 percent to 5.2 percent.

That makes backfilling $130 million in lost property taxes to local government problematic, Otter said. “We do not have a placeholder for $130 million in that budget,” adding that repeal may have to be phased in.

Credible Poll?

Let's see....the poll was conducted by Education Voters of Idaho who supported all three propositions...'nuff said.

The only poll I would trust...

...was the one taken on Nov 6th.

And that's the one

they will completely disregard. My money is on the propositions being implimented almost exactly as originally written.

Remember term limits?

Remember term limits? Newcombe did not like the voter's decision so he ignored it and voters never held anyone accountable. Only a fool would expect any different now and Clement Leroy knows this too.

term limits and...

Remember that the lottery was sold to us as a revenue enhancer for education, but only a few years later the majority party decided to give half to the state building fund.

EVI did the poll? That says

EVI did the poll? That says a lot for reliability and credibility. Was this the same questionnaire that was on the State Department of Ed website? I'd like to see the text of the questions as I heard they were quite skillfully crafted to get the desired responses.

Governor Otter ought to let this topic drop from sight. Allow the local districts to deal with education. We do not need more laws and more micromanagement by the department of education. Let local control work.

In other words...

Expect the sane laws, with minor tweaks, to reappear in the Legislature. After all, the GOP knows better than we do....

I think it's telling that you used the word "sane"

in your post. Appropriate as well!

You were trying to be sarcastic (in a way) and it backfired.

You're imagining things, no such word appears.


Apple users, run the Gig of RAM your PC needs to have and read the dumb tech white papers, wrinkle your forehead and buy more food and toilet paper with the difference. The internet is a piece of junk anyway and your cats know this.

Not exactly...

I'd love to take credit for a zinger, but the reality is I fat-fingered the n instead of m. ooops.

Foster and Fields questioned Ben Ysursa’s integrity when Big Ben

I wouldn't trust that poll. But glad to see two voices of reason. Good question. Good honest answer.

Foster and Fields and the pro prop 1, 2, 3 crowd questioned Ben Ysursa’s integrity for standing for Idaho citizens specific to Sunshine Laws. Another disconnect between the pro-props crowd and Idaho Citizens.

Parents, Teachers, Students, and yes, even the teachers Union earned our trust.
Lobbyists, Legislators, and the troubled For-profit education industry did not.

Abramoff: "Fire up the jet baby, we're going to El Paso!!" Mike Scanlon: "I want all their MONEY!!!" Email interchange between Jack Abramoff and Mike Scanlon, February 6, 2002

Teachers and the Unions DID not earn the trust....

There is not one teacher I trust out there to make a logical decision on education. NOT ONE! And I have family that are teachers.

Speak for your effin self if you trust any in that group.

Parents cannot be trusted really, because they want everything, but don't want to pay for it. Students (90% at least) care mostly about what makes their education easier, and the "experience" better.

Let me get this right

You can trust educators, you can't trust parents so you're gonna trust the government? You do understand what that makes you, right?

Exactly which "Unions" are

Exactly which "Unions" are you referring to?

Oh Brother

Here we go again. Really? Education Voters of Idaho? How does that group have any credibility?


What we've got here is failure to communicate!

Governor Otter's Position

He shows a total lack of leadership once again. Money is his driver, not good government. He is an embarrassment. Oh wait, this is Idaho. That's a given.


why i otter . . .


needs Otter/Luna-style education reform like Boise needs a trolley downtown. Which means we will likely get both and enjoy the results of neither.

This just in: Polls more accurate than elections

Polls are a much better representation of citizen preference than are elections. Especially when commissioned by the losing interests of a decisive election.

Everybody knows that.

"Red state Governor patently rejects his state election results for education, but nearly admits he will go along with evil Federal health care mandate."

Love It!!!

The Drift From Reality Continues

Just as the national Republican Party continues to drift, if not paddle, away fromt the reality of most Americans' lives, the Idaho version follows suit. Reality: Our constitution says provide a thorough and uniform free public education system. The drift: Our constitution really means " do the best you can." Reality: Citizens in all econimic strata need healthcare; The drift: Not under 90% federally funded Medicaid; let Idaho taxpayers pay for it under catastrophic provisions that go back on each county and the state--- and are vastly more costly since preventive care is not funded, only high cost ER at hospitals..

The rigid, unresponsive Republican positions march on to eventual defeat both in Idaho and nationally.

It's Our Poll and We are Proud of it!

Meanwhile the Otter brain-trust will ignore public opinion as measured by the BSU Public Policy Group or independent polling as well as the election.

IS BO attending the half day ethics instruction over at the State House? Why should he after learning all there is to need to know about ethics while a member of the US Congress.

Those for profit

education companies (of which bloomburg and Jeb bush own high stakes in) have already bought and paid for these laws. I imagine they expect tax payer money to be flowing their direction for their efforts. Which is why I expect us to be completely ignored. Luna has to give something in return for those millions pumped into our state. The for profits (who pumped money into over 30 states with the same plateforms as luna)are rubbing their hands over the flames..waiting to be paid per credit hour..per student. Luna is a bought and paid for clown.

All right. Who's been dippin the plug in the whiskey again?

Otter, really? I know Colorado and Washington passed the recreational dope smoking law, but Idaho had no such measure... Really? Really? I call reality check on the numbers. Just not buying it. But in other news I have some over adjudicated water rights to sell you from my base property ranch. Welcome to Idaho, the Land of Oz. Now would you like to meet the Wizard?

That poll needs Speed Stick.


Apple users, run the Gig of RAM your PC needs to have and read the dumb tech white papers, wrinkle your forehead and buy more food and toilet paper with the difference. The internet is a piece of junk anyway and your cats know this.