A few questions and comments from "Capitol For a Day"

Governor C. L. “Butch” Otter, with beverage in hand, walks into Sugar-Salem High School for “Capital For a Day.”

SUGAR CITY− “Capital For a Day” was held on Friday and several members of the public had questions for Governor C. L. ”Butch” Otter.

The Standard Journal was able to speak with Governor Otter for just a moment during the “Capital For a Day” forum.

When asked if Idaho would ever legalize the use of marijuana in any capacity, he answered quickly.

“Not on my watch,” Governor Otter said. “I got 133 days to go, that’s up to someone else.”

The Standard Journal also asked if Seventh District Judge, Greg Moeller, will finally get the Idaho Supreme Court position; this will be his third try.

“I’ve interviewed him twice before,” Governor Otter said. “He was on the final list twice before and he brings an awful lot to the table. But I now have quite a few on the judicial council who will be starting their investigations and their interviews of all those candidates and we got a lot of great candidates. In fact, I think this time we got 11 of them, I think we got six women and five men. That’s great to see. The good news is we’ve got a lot of great candidates. The bad news is we got a lot of great candidates.”

Governor Otter continued to tell the Standard Journal that he is often asked why he has never appointed a woman to the Supreme court.

“People ask me why I’ve never appointed a woman to the supreme court, even though you’ve had a couple of great choices. I look for the best justice. In fact, when I interview women for the supreme court, I ask them about that and they say, ‘you know, you have to pick the best, who you feel is the best.’’

Governor Otter has a list of qualities that he defines as the best for the job.

“I’ve seen folks that I thought would be the best,” Governor Otter said. “Are they constitutionalists? Are they strict interpreters of the Constitution? Do they understand the role of the supreme court? Do they understand the role of the other two branches? And when the legislature passes law and the government signs it, their mission, their job is to decide whether or not it violates the Constitution and that’s it. Not to create law.”

During the open forum, a student from Sugar-Salem high school asked how they are working to make education better in Idaho.

The Governor mentioned the five-year education plan the state has implemented, reading levels and college education.

“I believe we are on the right track,” Governor Otter said. “Are we there yet, no, but we need to get there.”

A mother and former educator asked the Governor when Idaho will start funding all-day kindergarten throughout the state. She said that she understands that many parents don’t want to put their children in all-day kindergarten but she is worried that Idaho students are falling behind.

“In the interest of full disclosure, I will tell you that when I was in the legislature I did not support compulsory kindergarten, mandatory kindergarten.” Governor Otter said.

Governor Otter said that when asked why he didn’t support kindergarten, his answer was that he follows the constitution and the laws of Idaho.

“And it says that the state shall provide for a system of free uniform and thorough common public schools and the public schools shall be populated by those between the ages of seven and 16. So that is our direction. And the other problem that I have is that, constantly, we were told ‘you’re not doing a good job of funding education,’” Governor Otter said. “So why would I add to the 295,000 students in the classroom today, why would I add another cohort of students that we underpay?”

Governor Otter continued by saying:

“So I always had the philosophy that when I’m doing the job I was hired to do, that of the constitution and the laws of the state of Idaho, then I would be willing to dive into kindergarten. Then I would be willing to go the extra mile.”

Governor Otter said that despite all of that, his children and several of his grandchildren all went to kindergarten and Governor Otter said that he believes that it is the parents obligation to do everything they can to ensure their children get an education.

“You’re not gonna find me doing something nice, you’re gonna find me doing something necessary,” he said.