Idaho Democrats respond to governor's speech - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Idaho Democrats respond to governor's speech

Posted: Updated:
BOISE, Idaho -

The Latest on State of the State in Idaho (all times local):
  
3:35 p.m.
  
Idaho Democratic legislative leaders thanked Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter for his service to the state of Idaho, noting that Otter has maintained a spirit of civil discourse even though the minority party hasn't always seen eye to eye with the Republican politician.
  
However, House Minority Leader Mat Erpelding of Boise said Monday he was concerned Otter's proposed $192 million tax cut will be balanced out on the backs of Idaho families.
  
Furthermore, Erpelding says Otter's 12 years in the executive office has left an entire generation of Idahoans impacted by inconsistent policies on education and health care.
  
Senate Minority Leader Michelle Stennett of Ketchum called for Congress to continue funding the Children's Health Insurance Program, which is set to expire in March.
  
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2 p.m.
  
Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter is asking state lawmakers to approve a nearly $200 million tax cut for Idaho taxpayers.
  
Otter unveiled his tax cut package Monday during his "State of the State" address.
  
The announcement comes at a time when tax officials are warning lawmakers that Idaho taxpayers could end up paying roughly $100 million more next year as a result of the Republican tax overhaul that President Donald Trump signed into law last month.
  
Otter's proposal is the latest idea lawmakers and tax experts are tossing around to ensure Idahoans receive tax relief, particularly as many Republican lawmakers face re-election in the upcoming GOP primary in May.
  
Separately, Otter is once again pushing lawmakers to reduce a key component in how Idaho calculates the unemployment insurance tax rate because the trust fund Idaho uses to pay unemployment benefits has more money than it needs to survive an economic crisis. Lawmakers failed to take up the governor's request last year.
  
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1 p.m.
  
Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter's final "State of the State" address begins with announcing Idaho is in a better place than when he took over office 12 years ago.
  
Otter said Monday that the governmental growth has remained limited during his three terms in the executive office, but the state has made important investments with its tax revenue.
  
The Republican governor is not seeking a fourth term.
  
Otter uses the annual speech to outline his budget and policy priorities for the upcoming fiscal year 2019. This year, Otter is asking lawmakers to raise the budget 6.6 percent - bringing the budget total to roughly $3.6 billion.
  
The budget includes a proposed $192 million of tax cuts for Idahoans.
  
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10:15 a.m.
  
Idaho Republican senators have elected new legislative leaders before the 2018 session officially kicks off.
  
Former Senate Majority Leader Bart Davis resigned earlier this year after being appointed to serve as U.S. Attorney for Idaho. This caused an opening among the four GOP legislative leadership positions in the Idaho Senate.
  
Secret balloting on Monday resulted in Sen. Chuck Winder as majority leader - who previously served as assistant majority leader. Sen. Steve Vick then won assistant majority leader against Sen. Todd Lakey, who previously served as caucus chairman.
  
Finally, Sen. Kelly Anthon won caucus chairman in a four-way race. None of the ballot totals were revealed because voting is held behind closed doors.
  
Republican leadership races are significant, because just who is in charge helps decide which issues become priorities and which legislative proposals can get consideration.
  
___
  
7 a.m.
  
Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter is expected to give his twelfth and final "State of the State" address on Monday afternoon.
  
The speech kicks off the start of the 2018 legislative session, with state lawmakers, members of the judiciary and other leaders gathering in the Statehouse to hear Otter's remarks.
  
Otter has served three terms as governor in Idaho and has said he won't seek re-election this year.
  
The governor typically uses the speech to outline his budget and policy priorities for the session. State lawmakers will then spend the next few months in Boise working to balance the state budget and pass legislation.
  
The speech begins at 1 p.m. MST.

(Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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