So it took 4,012 words. Idaho’s newly minted governor left no hot topic untouched in his first State of the State address.
Former Lt. Gov. Brad Little, now the state’s Commander in Chief, rang every essential bell, including:
• Educational investment
• Health care access and affordability
• Infrastructure investment
• Water and other natural resource protection
• Economic health, from agriculture to high-tech
A small but potent topic — a promise to fix the disaster known as the DMV — resonates with everybody who climbs behind the wheel of a motorized Idaho vehicle. Some of you reading this might still be cheering, which is just what the governor wants.
Note that like other State of the State (or State of the Anything) addresses, there’s an absence of the ominous. This is more the stuff of pep rallies and optimistic beginnings. To most Idahoans, Little’s song must have been music to their ears. But what happens in this legislative session will depend upon who’s following which sheet of music.
It’s our hope that legislators embrace the course our governor is charting.
Education must continue to be the highest priority, with attention paid not just to greater investment but to the quality of education being delivered. Legislators have for the most part been highly supportive the first four years of the current five-year plan, so there’s a positive buzz to see where the state will go from here. Doubling down on literacy is a great leap forward.
One area that Little touched on was infrastructure, specifically roads and bridges. It’s not the sexiest of subjects and there isn’t a powerful lobbying group behind it, but in our view, Idaho needs to take a strong short-term approach to what the governor called “long-term needs.” Every day we ignore major maintenance issues will end up costing much more down the road — including Idahoans’ lives.
But those are priority funding battles for another day. Today we applaud Gov. Little’s opening remarks and close with one of his statements that best summarizes the direction we should all be pulling together:
“My friends, if we create an environment that brings about economic prosperity, if we continue to invest and modernize education, if we do what we can to make health care accessible and affordable, if we invest in our infrastructure, if we protect our natural resources, and if we assure citizen confidence in government, we will keep our best and brightest here in Idaho.”