Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter (R)
Date of Speech: Jan. 6
Gov. Otter pledged to rebuild Idaho’s education budget and create a “K-to-career” education system during his 43-minute, more than half of which focused on education.
While Idaho’s implementation of the Common Core State Standards has become contentious, helping to spur a 2014 primary re-election challenge to the governor from a tea party favorite, Senate Majority Caucus Chairman Russ Fulcher, Mr. Otter defended the need to implement the Idaho Common Core. He said he would support legislation to protect student data and privacy while “improving rigor.”
Gov. Otter proposed $54.7 million in additional spending in K-12 and higher education, for a total of $1.75 billion for fiscal 2015, to begin to implement a five-year plan based on 20 recommendations by an education task force he assembled in 2012. The increases would include support for online reporting on school improvement for parents and community members, more classroom use of technology, teacher development, dual-credit courses, science and technology education, and early reading competency, as well as local pilot projects to improve school security.
Mr. Otter also wants to expand broadband Internet access through the Idaho Education Network to all elementary and middle schools by 2015; the network already connects all high schools in the state.
The governor’s proposed budget for the 2015 fiscal year also would refill $71 million in state rainy-day funds, including $29 million for the public education stabilization fund, $7 million for the higher education stabilization fund, and $35 million for the general-budget stabilization fund. “I don’t want to start something that I don’t at least have a comfortable zone of being able to continue the following year,” Mr. Otter said in a briefing with reporters after the speech.
Moreover, he said he would consider tax cuts only if they did not interfere with the state’s education goals. “My first priority is in investing in what will help us achieve our long-term growth,” he said.
Watch the Full Address
A version of this article appeared in the January 15, 2014 edition of Education Week as Idaho