It didn't take long for Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter to start catching flak from both sides of the political spectrum after delivering his tenth State of the State address Jan. 11.
"Incomplete," said Democratic House and Senate leadership.
"A tax-and-spend bonanza," wrote Idaho Freedom Foundation President Wayne Hoffman.
Idaho's chief executive had just unveiled a proposed $3.3 billion spending plan for Fiscal Year 2017—a 7.3 percent increase over FY 2016.
"His budget should be declared dead on arrival," wrote Hoffman, adding Otter's speech was "devoid of exciting, bold, innovative and conservative policy ideas."
Otter boasted in his speech that "promoting and constantly improving education for the people of Idaho must be the foundation of our work together," before saying he would propose a $1.59 billion public school funding package and a return to pre-recession operating levels.
That wasn't nearly enough, according to Statehouse Dems, who added, "We cannot compete in today's economy if we are still trying to catch up to 2009."
Democrats said the inadequate funding was pushing more Idaho school districts to pass supplemental levies to survive, calling the levies "unfair taxes that residents pass to protect their children. ... True leadership would work to correct this unequal educational system in Idaho."
Oddly missing from Otter's State of the State was his previously announced plan for a $30 million state-funded plan to help plug the Medicaid gap, which has left nearly 78,000 Idahoans without insurance. Democrats have wasted little time in dubbing the plan "Ottercare," saying the proposal omits hospital care, emergency medical transportation, cancer care, expensive prescriptions and mental health care.
"To add to this, Ottercare comes at triple the price," said the Dems, first by refusing federal dollars to fill the Medicaid gap, secondly by continuing to fund indigent care through local taxes and thirdly by draining $30 million from state coffers.