In a speech riddled with poor economic news amidst further state budget hold backs, each of us may have found certain portions of Governor Otter's state of the state address more disheartening.
As a college student, the daughter of a teacher, the granddaughter of a teacher trained at the former teacher training school in Albion, Idaho, and someone who aspires to teach at one of Idaho's institutions of higher learning, it wasn't easy to swallow news that public schools will face $26 million in cuts this year. I've been on a public campus with a front-row seat to how public institutions are already grappling with Otter's ordered hold backs, today's news is a very tough blow to public schools across the state.
However, there was a moment in Governor Otter's speech that I found both disheartening and incongruous. Somewhere between Governor Otter congratulating the two Idaho institutions I do not attend--Boise State and University of Idaho--for football glory and then turning to those very institutions with the news that budget hold backs will hit them adversely, Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter took a moment to acknowledge and thank the CEO of Blue Cross of Idaho:
Citing a $300,000 donation by Blue Cross of Idaho to fund medical residencies for the next three years (for Idaho students that do not have a medical school to attend in-state) and a "willingness to act on [his] belief in stronger, better, healthier Idaho," Ray Flachbart stood to applause. The ironies and irritants abound.
Is Governor Otter not aware that while a majority of insured Idahoans are customers of Blue Cross, Blue Cross is responsible for many bankruptcies in this state, and treats a number of Idahoans, including recent college graduates as second-class citizens? Was Governor Otter not aware that while he was taking a moment in the biggest speech he will give this year to recognize Ray Flachbart, average Idahoans are very sick, some even dying because they can't afford health insurance, much less see a doctor? Is Governor Otter not aware that Blue Cross of Idaho is guilty of questionable business practices that border on fraud?
While Governor Otter was thanking his "friend" Ray Flachbart for money he gave for Idaho medical residencies, average Idaho families were filing bankruptcy, often because their medical bills were out of control due to Blue Cross denying their claims despite their having paid premiums for years.
Please, Governor Otter, this recession hurts enough, do you have to rub my nose in it by reminding me of how much power your ole buddy Ray Flachbart wields in the statehouse and how big a role he plays in my own economic quandary?