Otter won’t back plan to raise highway funds

BOISE, Idaho — Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter says he won’t get behind a plan to raise revenue for roads and bridges without a show of support from the public.

Otter spelled out his conditions at a meeting of the Idaho Associated General Contractors in Garden City Friday.

“I doubt very, very much if in (2014) there will be an action — an action to the point of a legislative conclusion — meaning passage of those bills,” Otter said.

The Idaho Statesman reported that the Republican governor is determined not to repeat his experience of two years ago with the public education initiative “Students Come First.” That ambitious education overhaul was narrowly approved in the Legislature but overturned by voters the following year.

“If our process is anemic, if our process doesn’t reach out and correctly identify the problem, then all I can tell you is I went through a miserable election night as we were losing all three of those” propositions, Otter said.

Otter also said a push to raise highway funds in 2014 coincides with his bid to seek a third term as governor.

Otter has not officially announced he’s seeking a third term, but he’s hired a campaign manager. Otter faces a primary challenge in state Sen. Russ Fulcher, a conservative lawmaker from Meridian who says he disagrees with Otter’s decision to establish a state-run health insurance exchange under the federal Affordable Care Act.

The winner will face Anthony Joseph “A.J.” Balukoff, who announced his candidacy Tuesday and so far has no Democratic rival in May’s primary.

Otter asked the Idaho Associated General Contractors to help pay for a $45,000 poll to gage public support for additional highway revenue.

“I would hope that you folks would recognize that the information that we can get would be valuable to yourselves and your future direction and your future growth,” Otter said. “My first priority is going to be: What does the public say about it? Do they understand exactly what we’re trying to do?”

Wayne Hammon, executive director of AGC and Otter’s former budget director, said contractors will help pay for the poll.

“All of us talk about it all the time, but we live in the bubble of the capital,” Hammon said. “Out on the road do people see this as a problem? And if so, how big of a problem?”

Idaho has about 34,000 miles of local roads and 5,000 miles of state highways. A task force convened by Otter reported in 2010 that state and local highway funding fell $262 million short of meeting annual operation, preservation and restoration needs.

The 2014 Legislature begins Jan. 6.

More in Local News

Everett pastor’s life was inspired by Rev. Billy Graham

The first crusade Brian Harpell ever attended was when the Christian evangelist came to his hometown.

Water to be shut off for some homes, districts next week

The pipe closing will affect mainly the Snohomish and Monroe areas.

Section of W. Marine View Drive will be closed Saturday

A footbridge is being torn down between Everett Ave. and the Naval Station entrance.

Bicyclist suffers critical injuries in crash

A trooper says the man was not wearing a helmet.

Front Porch

EVENTS Series on mental health wraps up Sno-Isle Libraries’ “Issues that Matter”… Continue reading

Fugitive Watch

The state Department of Corrections’ Everett office has felony warrants for the… Continue reading

Expect more snow, ice Friday morning

The slick conditions made for some snarled commutes Thursday, and could do the same later.

Northshore School District bond for new elementary now passing

As of Tuesday, the $275 million proposal was comfortably above the 60 percent supermajority.

Front Porch

HEADS UP Roesiger history book goes digital “On the Trail of Richard… Continue reading

Most Read