John McGee, Idaho State Senator
2007 Idaho Legislative Preview
Elections have changed the look of the statehouse, with a new governor taking the helm and some familiar faces leaving the chambers. Though losing a handful of seats in the House of Representatives, the Legislature remains overwhelmingly in Republican hands, which generally means a sensitivity to the needs of the natural resources industry.
Governor Otter has already made several statements about natural resources. Of note was the Governor’s commitment to continue funding efforts to eradicate noxious weeds. Idaho continues to face the plague of noxious weeds infesting our waterways and over 8 million acres of our land mass. The annual cost of that infestation is about $300 million, and right now we are able to treat about 130,000 acres a year.
Gov. Otter’s recommendation is for $6 million to fight noxious weeds, plus $4 million to continue battling the choking effects of Eurasian water milfoil.
The budget for the state of Idaho will likely see smaller increases as a result of Gov. Otter’s emphasis on leaner, more efficient and effective state government. That is reflected in his recommendation for a modest 3.1-percent increase in the base operating budget.
On the heals of major property tax relief provided by the Legislature during a special session last summer, it is expected that a further tax reduction, in the form of a reduction of the tax that citizens pay on the purchase of groceries.
In short, expect a legislative session made up of frugal budget and few major initiatives.
Idaho State Senator