BOISE — We're almost a month into the 2019 legislative session and today, Governor Brad Little shared his thoughts thus far.
Governor Little continuously states his top priority is education, he echoed its importance at the Idaho Press Clubs Breakfast with the Governor, which was held just minutes before House Bill 153, the bill laying out action on the teacher salary increase, was introduced at the statehouse. House Bill 153 is a proposal that would implement the salary increases over a two-year period, raising minimum teacher pay to $40,000.
"The rate of increase at the starting teacher pay, wasn't keeping up with compression elsewhere on the grid, and by putting another year on it, that would allow some of that compression to be lessened," said Governor Brad Little.
And coming just days after the legislature's budget setting committee approves a nearly six percent increase to education funding, including money for the literacy proficiency program Governor Little believes is crucial.
"If we're gonna spend half of our budget on public education, if we don't have these kids reading proficiently at the end of the third grade, what the hell are we doing with the rest of the money?" said Little.
And in the midst of Idaho's continuous growth, transportation funding is another hot topic. Governor little acknowledged something needs to be done with the roadways, but he stated the best option may be to find more specific ways to fund transportation.
"When we have a slow down, and we will, I mean that's a fact of life, kids will always trump roads. And so you can't count on general fund spending," said Little.
And Medicaid expansion; it's had its fair share of bumps in the road, coming fresh out of a lawsuit where the Idaho Freedom Foundation claimed it is unconstitutional, but the state prevailed, despite continuous controversy on Medicaid expansion. Governor Little assures, the expansion will be funded.
"We've got twice as many people that have been priced out of healthcare because of the costs as we do people that were left out when the exchanges were put in when the affordable care act passed,” said Little.