Local legislators say governors State of State lacks substantive
By GREG STAHL
While commending Gov. Dirk Kempthorne for his attention to childrens
issues in his State of the State address Monday, Wood River Valley Democratic legislators
criticized the governors speech for lacking substantive proposals on critical issues
"We are eager to hear if the governor takes bolder steps in his
budget address [today], especially on school facilities, mental health and health
care," Senate Minority Leader Clint Stennett, D-Ketchum, said. "These are
critical areas where Idaho lags behind other states and we need to take action to ensure
all children reach their full potential."
Among the biggest disappointments for Minority House Leader Wendy Jaquet,
D-Ketchum, and Stennett was Kempthornes vision for the states tobacco
In his speech, the governor said he wishes to invest the funds and spend
only the interest.
Stennett and Jaquet discussed the governors speech in both a Tuesday
telephone interview and a press statement.
Both local lawmakers would like to divide the fund and split it three ways
between health and tobacco illness prevention, scholarships for Idaho high school
graduates and a trust fund for future needs.
Additionally, Stennett and Jaquet were not pleased with the
governors stance on President Bill Clintons roadless initiative.
The Republican governor is proud to be the first state in the country to
file a suit against the federal government over the roadless initiative, Stennett said.
Stennett called the governors vocal pride "fed bashing."
Jaquet and Stennett agreed that if Idaho is against the program,
cooperative efforts to reach a middle ground would be better than outright opposition at
the start of the legislative session.
"The only way we can win is to build a local consensus solution, and
thats been taken off the table now," Stennett said.
"I felt he was bashing, and he wasnt being visionary about this
issue," Jaquet added.
The two local legislators were also dismayed that Kempthorne will try to
create an endangered species office within his office.
"He wants it in his office, but he wants it funded. It would be state
money to defend against endangered species listings," Stennett observed.
Legislators in general agreed that Kempthornes second State of the
State address was stylish but vague.
The governor did weigh in with a number of clear, even decisive, positions
on such issues as raising sportsmens fees for the Department of Fish and Game; and
upgrading the Division of Environmental Quality to department status, despite opposition
from the states largest business lobby, the Idaho Association of Commerce and
"The feeling I have is its pushed right up to the limit,"
Senate Finance Chairman Atwell Parry, R-Melba, said. "Theres some very
aggressive programs to look at."
House speaker Bruce Newcomb, R-Burley, joined most lawmakers in agreeing
that today should provide at least some of the details they need to begin making decisions
on the chief executives latest program.
The Associated Press contributed to this story