It’s an old, old phrase: The governor proposes, the legislature disposes. Seems to go back a century or so at least.
It’s worth considering in the coming week, as Idaho Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter makes his pitch at proposing. The question after that will relate to disposition of those ideas by the legislature.
Put another way, the governor’s state of the state speech (which for some years now has been merged with the budget speech) has been the opening shot in something of a wrestling match between the second and third floors of the statehouse. Governors are there year-round, and have a much higher profile and taller platform. But legislators made the decisions about what is and isn’t acceptable, and they are extremely protective of their prerogatives.
In each legislative session, at least in each with topics of real controversy, you’ll find this tension, and it’s certainly not diminished when the legislature and governor are of the same party. Transportation funding was the key reason the 2003 session lasted 118 days, still an Idaho record; the governor mostly got his way that time, but political bridges were torched along the way, and repair work lasted awhile.
There’s no particular reason to think 2015 will go that route; Otter will be delivering a number of specific proposals on Monday but compromise may be in the wind on a several of them.
Many eyes will be looking toward Otter’s call for restoring public school funding to where it was in 2009, before the economic dip wrenched the state. He’s not alone in that call or in expressing the sense it might happen; Senate President pro tem Brent Hill, R-Rexburg, who ought to be a good indicator, said in a legislative preview article, “There is a good chance that the legislature will completely restore the funding for public schools and approve the largest public education budget in Idaho’s history. Although portions of the funding increases will facilitate further implementation of the twenty recommendations of the education task force, more funds will also be available for the discretion of local school boards.”
Maybe; but there remain no small number of legislators who would prefer another round of tax cuts. We’ll have to get a few weeks into the session to see how that plays out. (more…)