© 2021 Boise State Public Radio
WebHeader_3.png
NPR in Idaho
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
Education
C.L. “Butch” Otter has been a fixture of Idaho politics since 1973 when he was elected to his first term in the state House of Representatives.Otter was elected to his third-consecutive term as governor on Nov. 4, 2014. He was elected to his second term as Idaho governor on Nov. 2, 2010. Otter first became Idaho's governor on Nov. 7, 2006.Gov. Otter was at the helm during the peak of the Great Recession and it was his administration that oversaw the cutting of the state budget, record unemployment, and a boom in the number of people using government assistance.Otter spoke with StateImpact Idaho back in 2012 about that recession and its lasting impact on Idaho's workforce.Governor Otter: Every Generation Deals with Joblessness and We Live Through ItA Brief BiographyOtter, a Republican, is the longest serving lieutenant governor of Idaho, his tenure spanned from 1987-2000. In 2000 he was then elected to the United States Congress and served until 2006.According to the Washington Post, Otter voted with his party most of the time, 86 percent, but has been known to have an independent streak on some issues.“He was among three Republicans in the House to vote against the USA Patriot Act in 2001 and he later sponsored a bill to repeal parts of it. But independent streaks are sometimes tolerated in a state that would rather not be told what to do by the federal government.” - William Yardley, New York TimesOtter was born on May 3, 1942 in Caldwell, Idaho. He attended St. Teresa’s Academy in Boise and graduated from Boise Junior College (now Boise State University) with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science in 1967.After college, Otter joined the Idaho National Guard and served in the 116th Armored Calvary until 1973.Butch Otter is married to his second wife, Lori. He has four children and several grandchildren.

Idaho Voters Tax Themselves $1 Billion To Fill School Budget Holes

Voted_Stickers_ERS.jpg
Emilie Ritter Saunders
/
Boise State Public Radio

Since July 1, 2007 — and during Butch Otter’s two terms as governor — school districts have backfilled their budgets with more than $1 billion in supplemental property tax levies.

The amount of the levies has steadily grown during Otter’s first eight years in office. So too has districts’ reliance on these short-term voter-approved levies.

Idaho Education News analyzed supplemental property tax levy figures from 1992 through June 30. The analysis uses July 1, 2007 as a breakpoint, for several reasons. The date roughly coincides with Otter’s election as governor. Ten months earlier, at the urging of then-Gov. Jim Risch, lawmakers approved a tax shift that eliminated most school property taxes and raised the sales tax to cover much of the difference. And July 1, 2007 predates the Great Recession, which saw Idaho impose a series of unprecedented cuts in K-12 funding.

The results:

  • From 2007-08 through 2013-14, a period ending June 30, the schools collected $956.2 million in levies, an average of $136.6 million per year.
  • From July 1, 1992 through June 30, 2007, a 15-year period, districts collected $867.9 million in levies. That averages out to $57.9 million a year.

Supplemental levy numbers for 2014-15 — the current budget year, which began July 1 — won’t be available for several weeks. But when those numbers are factored in, the cost of supplemental levies during Otter’s tenure will easily eclipse the $1 billion mark.
The Commonplace Levy

Supplemental property taxes generally run one to two years, and require a simple majority to pass. There is nothing new about this taxing authority. But since 2007, supplemental levies have grown almost commonplace across Idaho.

Ninety-one of Idaho’s 115 school districts had a supplemental levy on the books in 2013-14, up from 59 districts in 2006-07, the budget year that ended on June 30, 2007.

Levies have become widespread — in larger, urban districts with a robust property tax base, and in smaller, rural communities as well. Supplemental levies are collected in at least part of every county in the state.

The 91 districts with supplemental levies accounted for a combined 2013-14 enrollment of 247,587, or close to 92 percent of the 269,598 students attending Idaho’s public schools. (Idaho’s remaining 19,367 students attend charter schools that cannot collect property taxes.)

Click here to read the rest of this story from Idaho Ed News.