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Governor Little lauds regulation cuts, calls for teacher pay increases and transportation funding

Posted at 1:00 PM, Jan 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-08 14:43:19-05

BOISE, Idaho — Governor Brad Little addressed Idaho for his second State of the State Address at the Idaho State Capitol on Monday.

"After being in this position for a year, I can say with certainty that there is a lot of passion in Idaho for making our state the best it can be. We have much to be proud of. And much to work toward," Little said. "I have learned that progress requires pushing the boundaries of what’s comfortable in government. It requires a strong desire to get things done."

In his address, Little said the Idaho Army National Guard will be sending more than 4,000 soldiers to Germany "in support of a large-scale exercise to demonstrate U.S. military readiness." He added the Idaho Air National Guard will deploy more than 400 airmen to several locations throughout Southwest Asia in support of combat operations.

The Governor also said he will continue to work on investing in education, reducing "regulatory burdens." In December, Idaho became the least-regulated state in the nation after Governor Little's administration cut or simplified 75% of Idaho's administrative rules-- eliminating more than 30,000 restrictions and some 1,800 pages of regulations this year.

"My first executive order this year will make it a routine practice for Idaho state government to undergo the kind of successful regulatory review we saw in 2019," Little said. "I am calling it 'Zero-Based Regulation.'"

Little proposed an increase in teacher pay.

"We cannot simply rely on the good hearts of teachers any longer to retain an effective teaching workforce in Idaho. We must pay them competitively," Little said. "I propose we put an additional $30 million in ongoing General Fund as a down payment to continue increasing teacher pay over the next several years. Performance criteria will ensure accountability."

Little said one topic he's consistently hearing about is the transportation system.

"The Association of Idaho Cities and Associated General Contractors are working on a study of Idaho’s transportation needs. After it’s complete, I’ll work closely with the Legislature and others to formulate a sustainable funding plan," Little said. "In the meantime, I am recommending that we direct close to $100 million to maintain and improve the state’s highway system."

The governor also proposed improving Idaho's broadband infrastructure.

"For both urban and rural Idaho to attract business and enhance our citizens’ quality of life, Idaho must be connected. I am adopting a recommendation from my Broadband Task Force, led by Idaho Department of Commerce Director Tom Kealey, to establish a State Broadband Office," Little said. "We will utilize existing resources at Commerce and unite the efforts taking place across the state to ensure all areas of Idaho are connected."

The governor spoke at length about his commitment to continue to fight the opioid crisis.

"Because of the misuse of prescription pain killers and illegal drugs, for the first time in decades Americans’ life expectancy has actually dropped," Little said. "There’s hope for a better future for these individuals, though. Idaho has made great progress with the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program. Use of the database has increased from 530,000 searches a few years ago to a staggering 21 million searches last year. This is part of the reason opioid use has dropped since 2016, despite a growing population. But there is more we can and must do. I am recommending more than $30 million to arm physicians and pharmacists with the tools to identify and prevent opioid abuse."

He concluded by thanking the citizens of Idaho for their trust.

"I want to thank the citizens of Idaho for their trust in me. And I thank the Idaho Legislature for working with me to do the People’s work," Little said. "God bless you, and may God continue to bless the people of Idaho and our great country."

If you'd like to watch the Governor's FULL address, you can do so here:

Here's a breakdown of the budget: