A state panel has voted to slightly raise the housing stipend for Idaho's governor as the state continues to be one of a handful without a governor's mansion.
The panel voted 3-2 along party lines to raise the stipend from $4,500 to $4,551 a month, the Idaho Press reported in a story on Tuesday. That's $54,612 a year.
Gov.-elect Brad Little is scheduled to have a salary of $138,302 when he takes office in January.
Little lives in Emmett, about 30 miles (50 kilometers) from Boise. During his political career, he has rented a condominium in Boise from a subsidiary of a company owned by his family.
Little says he's fine with the stipend set by the panel. "It's up to that committee," he said.
Democratic Sen. Maryanne Jordan of Boise and Democratic Rep. Melissa Wintrow of Boise both voted against raising the stipend.
"I feel like the purpose of the governor's mansion was as a hosting and entertainment space, and that's not been met for quite some time," Jordan said. "The hosting and entertaining will get done in other places. My feeling is that we need to be addressing the governor's salary. It's a big job and deserves an adequate salary. Doing this instead doesn't make sense."
Wintrow said lawmakers should look at relocation costs rather than housing costs. "I look forward to having a larger discussion about the necessity of having a stipend in general," she said.
Keith Reynolds is the deputy director of the state Department of Administration. He said that agency looked at the cost of owning and maintaining a 2,500-square-foot home in North Boise in coming up with $4,551 a month. The final amount included factoring in that the governor's stipend is taxable income.
"I like the idea of having a formula established to reflect the cost to maintain a residence," said Rep. Robert Anderst, R-Nampa.
Having a governor's mansion has proved costly in the past, Anderst said. "It ultimately becomes a runaway expense to maintain," he said.