Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter's office is kicking itself this week over a letter that was sent out last week to workers of Head Start, Parents as Teachers, Teen Pregnancy Prevention, Suicide Prevention, and other related community resources. The letter was blunt: By June 15, we're out of money, and you're out of a job.
The outrage followed shortly thereupon. Former Idaho First Lady Patricia Kempthorne told the Idaho Statesman she was shocked by the cuts (many of them were her initiatives), and the Idaho Democratic Party has begun an online petition that, as of early this week, had almost 1,000 signers, asking Otter to fund the programs.
Otter's office was reacting to a state audit of the Department of Health and Welfare, saying those programs were improperly using federal Temporary Assistance to Needy Families money--about $1.5 million of it.
Otter's office said it is now trying to find new ways to fund the programs, but isn't ready to spend part of the nearly $75 million in state surplus money to do so.
"We're not killing Head Start. That's just not true," said John Hanian, who added that Otter was concerned there were few measurable indices for how the money was spent.