Education, healthcare and taxes top issues for 2014 Legislature

Education, healthcare and taxes top issues for 2014 Legislature

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by Justin Corr

Bio | Email | Follow: @JCorrKTVB

KTVB.COM

Posted on January 5, 2014 at 6:11 PM

Updated Monday, Jan 6 at 2:23 PM

BOISE -- Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter will give his State of the State address on Monday as the Idaho Legislature begins its 2014 session.

According to KTVB political analyst, Dr. Jim Weatherby, there are a number of big issues lawmakers will take on as the session gets underway.

At the top of the list -- education.

The governor has said that education funding will increase, and that he'll start trying to implement some of the 20 recommendations by his Task Force for Improving Education. There is bipartisan support for their ideas, but perhaps not to fund their ideas.

"Education is the top priority," said Weatherby. "Certainly, the work of the Task Force was highly commendable, but it carries with it a huge price tag of $350 million or more."

Weatherby also says the Idaho Core Standards will be a big education issue this year, and could dominate the Republican gubenatorial primary race.

The campaign between Otter and Majority Caucus Chair Russ Fulcher will likely spill into the session.

"I think it will get in the way of a number of decisions," Weatherby said.

Weatherby says questions about Idaho's role in the Affordable Care Act, like the state insurance exchange, will also be featured in the session as many in the Statehouse face stiff tests in the primaries.

Weatherby believes bills on abortion, same-sex marriage, and other social issues will also surface.

"But, in an election year, where one of the big questions in the GOP closed primary is, 'Who is the authentic conervative?' I suspect there will be social legislation that will be used as a litmus test to determine how conservative individual members are."

As always, taxes will be another big issue. Weatherby expects Otter to call for tax cuts for the third straight year during Monday's State of the State address.

One thing Otter is expected to remain mum about during his speech is the issue of transportation funding.

"Given the toxic anti-tax environment we're living in today, no," said Weatherby.

We'll hear more on Gov. Otter's plans for the session Monday, during his State of the State address.

The speech will air live on Newschannel 7 and on KTVB.COM starting at 1 p.m.

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