Idaho Press Club Headliners Breakfast

Boise, ID   February 24, 2010
Guest: Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter
Transcript of portions dealing with Idaho Public Television

Reporter Sharon Fisher: Governor, given the sort of public support that public television and the smaller commissions received and the fact that some of them have said that they didn't realize that what you were asking for from them was a business plan, if you were faced with a similar situation in the future, how might you handle it differently?

Governor Otter: Well, I think I probably would go to the State Board and insist that the State Board follow-up on their request for a business plan which they had requested and had not received for some time. But as I've explained before those folks don't answer to me, pardon me, the State Board does but the folks at Idaho Public Television don't answer to me. They answer to their board and that happens to be the State Board of Education. You know we toyed with the idea two years ago when we were reforming the mission of the board, we toyed with the idea of taking that out of the State Board of Education and putting it under a different model for management. I'm not going to say which agency, but, or even a standalone, we even, like we did with the libraries and like we did with the other operations. But we found that they had if I recall 28 licenses that were licensed to them and the State Board was the holder of the licenses. The legal costs in doing that was astronomical. And so, plus the sites, all the leased sites that they had, everything that they had actually went through the State Board. So I suspect in answer to your question that, I'm getting, by the way, I'm getting the results that I asked for and I suspect that if I had gone to the State Board and been more insistent that they go forward with their request for a business plan from Idaho Public Television we probably could have achieved the same thing as we are now achieving. However, as you know the State Board is not in town all the time. They are not here, we are here all the time and the frustration in not getting a response. And if there was a misunderstanding in it, as you, and that's, you know, that's possible because you got to go through the chain of command when you do that. And the interpretation that and the urgency that I put on it maybe wasn't shared as greatly by the State Board who, as I had hoped that it would. But we found the other thing in some of those other agencies that are run by boards and commissions rather than answer to the executive department. I appoint the commissions and I appoint the boards but they are part-time boards and they are necessarily scattered all over Idaho if not only for regional but also for being able to respond to constituencies and that sort of thing. So I have found that we are getting the response from each and every quarter that we had expected. In some cases there were, the reason the communication was not as successful as I thought it should be was because there was some replacement of the executive director in the process. And it was unfortunate that it came at that time and the paperwork was lost: the request for budget, the request for budget reduction, and the request for business plan on what are you going to cut back and how is this going to affect your mission, those sort of things that they could tell us.

Reporter: So Governor, it sounds like you are getting the response that you want . . . [from ] Idaho Public Television…

Governor Otter: Well you know I, one of the bills that I do have going forward in the Legislature is to encourage more volunteer funding of Idaho Public Television and those other agencies. In other words, it gives a little larger tax break, it doubles the giving possibilities that can be deducted from income. In fact it, in one case, it goes much larger than that. So, you know, I'm hoping I can encourage an increased volunteer contribution to Idaho Public Television and their mission.

Reporter: A two part question, again on IPTV, sorry, if you, is it your view that Idaho would be better served and that you could be a more effective governor if that agency and perhaps others reported directly to you as governor and not through these part-time boards you are talking about. And secondly, if that were the case, would Peter Morrill still have a job?

Governor Otter: Well, I'm not going to venture a guess on the second part of your question, but on the first part of your question I think the Idaho Public Television was created, grew up, in the concept in the education field because it was an aide to distributive education. And there is nothing wrong with that, which was another reason aside from the fact that the extravagant legal cost in changing all of those licenses would have cost. But that was the other thing, where could it go and still perform one of its core missions and that is distributing, educating people. Obviously they do a tremendous job of that and informing people on what is going on in the Legislature and you know other specific items that they might choose to develop and explore.