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A Discussion With Idaho Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter

Apr/May 07
Otter's positions may not always be popular with the news media, but he isn't looking for the media's approval. He's looking to make smart moves for his state. Otter is committed to improving public schools, expanding community colleges, and stimulating an economic environment where businesses can prosper. Listen in as he outlines some of his priorities as Governor.

On healthcare. My top state-government priority will be effectively and efficiently implementing the Medicaid reforms enacted by the legislature last winter, while assessing other changes that might be needed to ensure the system meets the growing demand within our available resources. I also will emphasize encouraging and providing incentives for wellness and preventive healthcare. I do not believe it is the job of government to provide healthcare coverage to everyone. I believe government's role is to provide an economic, regulatory, and legal climate in which individuals and employers can afford to provide themselves, their families, and their employees the healthcare coverage they need. That means combating frivolous lawsuits that drive up the cost of medical malpractice insurance and ultimately reduce access to healthcare. It means working to provide adequate reimbursement rates and incentives that encourage providers to meet the needs of our rural communities; and it means working closely with providers and insurers to make sure limited resources are focused where they are needed most.

On energy. As a member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, I helped put together our nation's first comprehensive energy policy in more than a dozen years. As Idaho's Governor, I will use that extensive background to ensure that our state's energy resources are ready to meet the challenges of growth. Idaho is a net importer of energy. About 40 percent of our electricity and virtually all our motor vehicle fuel come from out of state. That leaves us with two choices - generate more energy here at home or ensure the infrastructure is in place to efficiently and effectively bring the people and businesses of Idaho the energy they need. Denying the realities of the energy marketplace, waiting for some new technology, or putting all our eggs in the basket of renewables is not the answer for Idaho's energy needs. As Governor, I will face the future head-on, and act decisively to meet the challenges.

On technology. "From potato chips to computer chips" has become a pretty familiar slogan for Idaho's economic diversity efforts. And that's appropriate. Our state, known worldwide for agricultural products and scenic beauty, has a growing reputation for producing some of America's best and most advanced high-tech products. Visionary individuals and companies like Hewlett-Packard and Micron Technology paved the way. But Idaho's continuing high-tech success, in every corner of our state, has even more to do with the quality of the people working in laboratories and on production lines, and the extraordinary sense of ownership that our citizens and communities have invested in technology businesses. Idaho is committed to providing an economic, educational, and regulatory climate that fosters high-tech growth and progress.

On water management. We have a problem with water rights now because of a failure of the state to mind its business when it comes to the appropriation and diversion of water. We simply haven't managed that scarce resource as required by law. We need to own up to that failure and do something about it. In my administration, we will enforce the law and follow the court's ruling. That's why I'm calling for this water summit to reason our way forward - to protect the time-honored doctrine of first-in-time, first-in-right, while seeking to repair the damage that the state's neglect has caused on this issue.