How Did the Governor’s Agenda Match Up with the Idaho Legislature’s Accomplishments?

2013-04-09T02:00:00Z How Did the Governor’s Agenda Match Up with the Idaho Legislature’s Accomplishments?By Melissa Davlin - mdavlin@magicvalley.com Twin Falls Times-News

BOISE • The different branches of Idaho’s government don’t always agree on a path forward.

Each January, the governor outlines his priorities in a speech to the Idaho Legislature.

So how did Gov.C.L.“Butch”Otter’s plan line up with lawmakers’ accomplishments?Here’s a rundown of some of Otter’s wishes:

Successes

Insurance exchangeIn the most public battle of the session, the Legislature passed a bill to establish a state-based insurance exchange in Idaho. Otter made it clear he’s no fan of the Affordable Care Act but endorsed the insurance exchange, saying it was the state’s best option under the law.

5 new WWAMI seatsIdaho is in a partnership with theUniversity of Washington Medical School and the states of Washington, Wyoming, Alaska and Montana to provide taxpayer-funded training for medical students across the region. Otter recommended funding five more seats in the program, and the Legislature agreed. The Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee added the funding in February.

Rangeland fire protection After a devastating 2012 fire season, Otter supported establishing a process for starting and operating nonprofit rangeland fire protection associations, where voluntary groups can work with agencies to fight fires. This year, the Legislature budgeted $400,000 to help establish at least four of the groups.

Partial Successes

Personal property taxOtter wanted a full repeal of the tax, which applies to tools, machinery and other business equipment. But local governments expressed concern over the revenue loss. The Legislature passed a compromise, which exempts the first $100,000 of a business’s assessed personal property per county.

Otter hopes to fully repeal the tax in the future. A press release from Otter’s office calls it “an important first step toward total elimination of this onerous and burdensome tax.”

Didn’t Happen

Extension of the Hire One ActThe Hire One Act offered tax incentives for businesses that created new positions for employees. A bill to extend the tax credit passed the House but didn’t get a hearing in the Senate. That means the tax credit will expire at the end of this year.

Opening of a mental health facility for prisonersIn his January speech, Otter discussed securing $70 million in bonds for a 579-bed mental health facility for Idaho prisoners. The Department of Corrections withdrew its request for the facility later in the session, citing a desire to further study options.

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