Bringing the Economy Home


Gov. Otter Signs Personal Property Tax Bill, Calls For Full Repeal

Joe Jaszewski / Idaho Statesman

Gov. Otter advocated eliminating Idaho's business personal property tax in his State of the State address.

Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter today signed a bill to partially repeal Idaho’s business personal property tax, calling it “a good and important start toward the goal of eliminating the personal property tax in Idaho.”

In his letter to the Legislature the governor urges lawmakers to take the issue up again, and do away with the tax altogether.

The tax on business equipment and machinery generates approximately $140 million annually for local government and taxing districts. The Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry (IACI) has for years pushed for its full repeal, an aim Gov. Otter endorsed in his State of the State address in January. Continue Reading

Idaho’s Latest Health Exchange Bill Prevents Gun Data Collection, Adds Legislative Oversight

Emilie Ritter Saunders / StateImpact

Public comment on the Idaho Legislature’s new health insurance exchange bill starts bright and early tomorrow morning. With signup starting at 6:30 a.m., interested citizens will have the chance give the House Health and Welfare Committee their opinion on the revamped bill that would create a state-based health insurance exchange.

As we reported Monday, the new bill combines Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter’s initial proposal that passed in the Senate, with more legislative oversight as requested by a group of 16 freshman legislators. The most noticeable change from the original Senate Bill 1042 to the new House Bill 248 is that three legislators will be appointed to the exchange’s oversight board.

StateImpact did this line-by-line comparison with the original version of the bill and the latest iteration. You’ll see the majority of the new text is on page 5. It’s there that House lawmakers included a section that explicitly says the insurance exchange can’t ask customers about their use, ownership, possession, or storage of any firearms or ammunition. Continue Reading

Gov. Otter’s State Of The State Speech Sets His Agenda For Idaho Legislature

Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter released his budget along with his State of the State speech today. Here are some key points. The full speech is posted below.

  • The governor’s budget would increase general fund spending by 3.1 percent in fiscal year 2014. The FY14 budget is $2.78 billion, that’s an $84 million increase over FY13.
  • The governor’s budget estimates a 5.27 percent increase in revenue in fiscal year 2014
  • The governor’s budget calls for a 2 percent increase in K-12 public school spending, that’s about $25.6 million
  • The governor’s budget sets aside $35 million for the state’s rainy day fund. The fund currently has about $23 million, and $25 million will statutorily be added to the fund. This would mean the budget stabilization fund could be up to $83 million by fiscal year 2014. Continue Reading

Gov. Otter Says Idaho Should Build Its Own Health Insurance Exchange

Scott Olson / Getty Images

Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter

Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter is opting for a state-based health insurance exchange.

The Republican governor’s office distributed that news late this afternoon in a release that criticizes Obamacare, but says the state must assert its “commitment to self-determination” and fulfill its “responsibility to the rule of law.”

The decision is subject to the Idaho Legislature’s approval.

The full text of the governor’s press release is below.  For analysis and context, see this piece from StateImpact Idaho.

Continue Reading

Idaho’s Attorney General Says Schools Have One Month To Distribute Teacher Bonuses

The Idaho Attorney General’s office says school districts have until December 15, 2012 to distribute roughly $38 million in teacher bonuses that were part of an education law voters overturned last week.

Voters rejected Proposition 2 on Nov. 6.  That’s the provision that asked voters whether to uphold or repeal Idaho’s pay for performance plan the Legislature approved in 2011.

As we reported last week, school districts will have that bonus money by Nov. 15, but until today, it was unclear if districts had a deadline to distribute that bonus pay to teachers who earned it over the last school year.

Here’s the written opinion from Idaho’s Deputy Attorney General Andrew Snook:


Should Idaho Expand Its Medicaid Program? Some Answers Could Lie Here

Carsten Koall / Getty Images

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare now has a $100,000 study on Idaho’s Medicaid program in its hands.  The department commissioned the study in April, in preparation for the Medicaid expansion that was then required under the Affordable Care Act.

In light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling, which made the Medicaid expansion optional for states, the study has gained even greater relevance.  It’s expected to inform the decision that now awaits Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter: should the state expand Medicaid eligibility, or not?

A working group established by Gov. Otter shortly after the Supreme Court upheld the federal law in June is now weighing the state’s options.  Potential cost was a main question mark at the group’s first meeting in August.  Continue Reading

Supporters Of Idaho Medicaid Expansion Speak Out, But Costs Remain A Big Question

Emilie Ritter Saunders / StateImpact

The governor's panel on Medicaid expansion met for the first time this week. The group will submit its recommendation to the governor late this fall.

More than 236,000 Idahoans are currently enrolled in Medicaid.  That’s the federal-state funded health care program for low-income adults and children.  If the state chooses to expand eligibility in Idaho to 138 percent of poverty, 100,000 people could join the rolls.

Utah-based consulting firm Leavitt Partners presented that data to Idaho Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter’s work group on Medicaid expansion Monday.  The state hired the firm to  study how expanding the low-income health care program could affect Idahoans, and the state budget. Continue Reading

It Would “Be A Miracle” If State Meets Health Insurance Exchange Deadline

Emilie Ritter Saunders / StateImpact

Penny Schweibert with the Department of Insurance outlines the state's options.

A governor-appointed panel of state lawmakers, insurance executives and other community stakeholders met for the first time today to begin the process of deciding how Idaho will deal with the federal health care law’s requirement that states have some sort of health insurance exchange.

The options: let the federal government take charge, authorize Idaho to create and manage it, or set up a federal-state partnership.

Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter has to make the call.  If the decision is for an Idaho-run exchange, then the state has to present its ‘blueprint’ to the federal government by November 16.

That’s a deadline Department of Insurance project manager Penny Schweibert says can’t be met.  “States have spent two years getting to this point.  Other states have spent nine to 12 months, and they’re still scrambling to get the blueprint done,” says Schweibert.  “So, is it possible for us to get this blueprint? It would almost have to be a miracle.”  Continue Reading

Department Of Commerce Unveils Three Year Plan To Grow Idaho’s Economy

Idaho Department of Commerce

Jeff Sayer became the Dept. of Commerce director Oct. 3, 2011. He was appointed by Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter.

The director of the Idaho Department of Commerce and members of the Idaho Economic Advisory Council are meeting in Pocatello this week to tour area companies, talk with local county and city leaders, and explain the director’s plan to grow Idaho’s economy.

Director Jeff Sayer took the helm of the Commerce Department in October 2011.  His plan for strengthening Idaho’s economy includes generalities like: look at what other states are doing to develop business, evaluate projected growth, and develop communication strategies.

The plan also includes some specifics. The department wants to track Idaho’s 2 percent lodging tax as a way to measure tourism growth.  It also wants to create a web portal designed as a “one stop shop” for business, track and monitor companies that go on trade missions, and fully launch the governor’s Global Entrepreneurial Mission or IGEM.

You can read the full plan here: Continue Reading

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