Otter uses bully pulpit to press case for budget

It was by no means a stinging rebuke or a public shaming.

But the timing of Gov. Butch Otter’s latest guest opinion is notable.

On Tuesday, the governor used his bully pulpit to press the case for his education budgets — and subtly place a little pressure on fellow Republicans in the Legislature.

Butch Otter
Gov. Butch Otter’s Jan. 11 State of the State address. (Idaho Education News photo by Andrew Reed.)

Making his case for his proposed 7.9 percent budget increase for public schools, and increases across the “K-through-career” system, Otter used a couple of familiar numbers. He pointed to decreases in the state’s college attendance and postsecondary completion rates. He also said Idaho is in jeopardy of lapsing into a generational education gap.

“Idaho is one of 12 states where the young adults who soon will drive our economy are less educated than their parents,” Otter wrote. “Unless we act now, Idaho could be producing the first generation to be less educated than the one before. That is not acceptable – not to parents, not to community leaders, not to businesses, not to me, and certainly not to our future.”

Otter is pitching his budget, as a slightly different picture has begun to emerge in the Legislature. Last week, GOP leaders suggested the Legislature might not quite hit Otter’s 7.9 percent target. Meanwhile, a $27.8 million tax cut bill awaits a vote on the House floor; Otter did not recommend tax relief in his budget, but House tax hawks clearly have other ideas.

Otter didn’t mention these developments in his guest opinion. He did, however, provide visitors to his web page with a link — where they can contact their legislators about the budget.

More reading: Click here to read Otter’s guest opinion in full.

Kevin Richert

Kevin Richert

Senior reporter and blogger Kevin Richert specializes in education politics and education policy. He has more than 30 years of experience in Idaho journalism. He is a frequent guest on "Idaho Reports" on Idaho Public Television and "Idaho Matters" on Boise State Public Radio. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinRichert. He can be reached at [email protected]

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