Otter talks F-35s, governor race, more in Viewpoint

BOISE -- Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter defended his veto of the bill that would have repealed the state's 6 percent sales tax on groceries and weighed in on the quest to bring F-35 fighter jets to Boise's Gowen Field, the race to replace him, and life after office.

Those are just a few of the topics KTVB's Doug Petcash covered during a recent, wide-ranging interview with Governor Butch Otter for Sunday's Viewpoint.

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In March, Governor Butch Otter led a delegation to Washington, D.C. to make Idaho's case to military leaders that Gowen Field in Boise should be the base for an F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Jet Squadron.

"We had a lot of meetings in two days and I think we made out point pretty well," he said.

Gowen is one of five bases still in the running for the mission.

"I think there are some things that we've got to do," he said. "They're going to put together a group that will come to Idaho and they'll assess Gowen Field, its assets, what they would have to add to have the F-35 here, whether or not we have the buildings and the infrastructure that's necessary."

That contingent from Washington is expected to visit Gowen Field and the Idaho Air National guard in June.

The governor also defended his veto of the bill that would have repealed the state's 6% sales tax on groceries.

"First off, we were hitting the general fund every time we turned around," Otter said.

By one estimate, the state would lose $80 million dollars in tax revenue.

"I don't want to put some of the commitments that we've made, primarily in education from the general fund ongoing revenues, I don't want to put those things at risk," Otter said.

The governor also says he has no regrets about not running for a fourth term, pointing out that he will be 75 on May 3. He says he's supporting Lt. Gov. Brad Little to take his place in the 2nd floor office in the State Capitol Building.

"He's been a great lieutenant governor. He's been a good counsel for me. There are some times when I've wanted to do some things that he said, maybe we ought to think about this way or think about it that way," Otter said. "I'm not sure I can think of a person who has been more prepared."

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Otter said he's looking forward to his life outside the Statehouse. He's hoping to devote time to volunteering with his church.

"Miss Lori and I talked about a lot of things. One of the things we talked about was, I'm Catholic, was going on a mission for our church for a year," he said. "Take a year and get away from all of this, and mostly in very impoverished countries that need some skills but also need a helping hand."

You can watch our special edition of Viewpoint "One on One with Governor Butch Otter" Sunday morning at 6:30 a.m. on Idaho's NewsChannel 7.