Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Jones vs. Otter

Betsy Russell reports on state Controller Donna Jones taking a shot at Gov Otter here. Jones suggested that instead of raising $200M in taxes for our roads, we ought to use the $247M budget surplus.

A couple of hours after Russell’s first post, Jones was backtracking, saying she was just tossing out ideas. Otter must have objected.

Otter’s spokesman eventually ended up saying they’re looking for a revenue stream, not a revenue pond.

With that background, it’s interesting to consider that Jones and Otter aren’t exactly speaking with one voice on this issue. Otter is taking some heat for suggesting that taxes must be raised to keep our roads in shape, so having a fellow Republican drag the issue back into the light by suggesting a contrary solution has got to be irritating. Jones and Otter also split over the Land Board’s decision to make it policy to require a green belt easement in exchange for allowing development on state “high water mark” land.

Shawna Gamache of the Statesman got a local polisci egghead to say the obvious:
It's not that uncommon for an elected official to take a different tack on policy than a governor of the same party, said Boise State University political scientist Gary Moncrief.

"The governor doesn't appoint the controller," Moncrief said. "I don't think there's necessarily an expectation that a state controller or any other elected official is on parallel paths with the governor."
What Moncrief doesn’t mention or consider is the Jones-Otter split on the Land Board, and that Jones issued a press release with her “surplus money for roads” idea. That goes beyond just having a different opinion and into the realm of making an issue of the difference. Maybe Jones is playing to the anti-tax crowd. Maybe she’s a loose cannon. Maybe she thought she had a bright idea and wanted to get it out there. Whatever the motivation, it still put the Gov on the defensive on a very sensitive issue.

Update: Jill at New West gives her take here, which draws Rod Beck out in the comments.

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