Democratic candidates for governor Keith Allred and Lee Chaney had harsh words for Gov. Butch Otter at an Ada County Democrats event Tuesday in Boise. The two candidates are running in a May 25 primary to challenge Otter. Allred has been tabbed by the Idaho Democratic Party and has raised more money than Chaney for the contest.
Allred called Otter Idaho’s weakest governor in the past 40 years. He said Otter is hurting public education by not coming up with other alternatives to lowering public school funding to in the next school year.
Allred said the funding reduction could lead to overcrowding in schools, which some Republican lawmakers have disputed. The Democratic candidate said he would have found more money by not lowering the state’s tax revenue projections and by hiring more auditors at the Idaho Tax Commission to collect up to $60 million owed to the state. He was also critical of the state’s handling of leases of state-owned property on Payette Lake and Priest Lake. Money from those leases goes to an endowment fund for public education and other programs.
Allred, a resident of Eagle, also said that Idaho is lagging behind neighboring states in its response to the national economic slowdown.
Idaho’s sales tax exemptions, which Allred wants to reconsider, total $1.7 billion. Some Republicans, including House Majority Leader Mike Moyle, R-Star, have said it could be difficult for lawmakers to get rid of some of the largest exemptions, including health and medical services, utility sales, and production equipment. Those three categories total $540 million in exemptions in the current budget.
Chaney, who ran and lost in the 2006 Democratic gubernatorial primary, was critical of the legislative process, saying the governor and lawmakers need to quit bickering and start working together and serving the people. He told IdahoReporter.com he’s not a regular politician and called himself “the guy who doesn’t want to be governor."
Chaney, who lives in Preston, said Idahoans, not the governor, should hold the power, and that the government can do more to create economic opportunity for people.
Chaney also was critical of the effect on money on the governor's race. He said Otter or Allred, the two candidates who have raised the most campaign cash, could be beholden to the donors who financed their campaign. “Look at who pays their way in and pulls their strings,” he told the crowd of Ada County Democrats. Chaney also asked them to decide on their own who they will support in the May primary. “Vote for somebody you honestly think is the man you want. Don’t vote for who the party says. You are the party.”